"In order to carry a positive action we must develop here a positive vision."
I’m Shelly, a case manager here at the Community Caring Council. Everyday we work with many families and individuals who have different needs. One of the largest needs we see in the community is utility assistance for electric and water. The Community Caring Council receives dozens of calls a day from residents in our community who can’t afford to pay their utility bills. Many of these residents are only paying the minimum bill month after month which leaves a balance and that balance over time adds up! While our office tries to assist, we’re only able to assist with a small amount, once a year per household. This leaves many members of our community struggling to find other resources to pay the remainder of their bill.
The resources in our community aren’t large enough to meet the needs of our residents & too many families are left without electricity and/or water. This presents a chain effect. If they don’t have these basic resources, it could place the family or individual in violation of their rental agreement which in turn could cause them to lose their housing. If they are on subsidized housing, they could lose their funding without these utilities. Some families and individuals who couldn’t pay their utilities and have become homeless will find themselves “couch surfing” from house to house, trying to avoid living on the streets.
This lack of resources can even affect these households once they’ve found new housing. These households will have established a new residence and once they try to turn on the utilities they will be faced with large back bill. Most of the time the utility company wants either 75% of the back bill or the bill paid in full (sometimes even requiring a deposit) before restoring services in their name.
This barrier is huge when it comes to housing our community. Our community could benefit from more resources & agencies to work with our residents, to assist them in becoming more self-reliant & resourceful.