Help is available to keep utilities on

Published Tuesday, July 4, 2017

 

CHARLOTTE, NC, July 5, 2017 – With temps rising into the danger zone this summer, Crisis Assistance Ministry wants struggling families to know there is help available to keep utilities on.

“Milder temperatures may have been a blessing for a while. But highly variable temperatures make monthly utility expenses hard to anticipate,” says Tovi Martin, Communications Manager for the agency, which is Mecklenburg County’s lead agency for emergency rent and utility assistance.  “As the summer heats up, families face hard choices with higher food costs, higher utility bills, and more childcare costs from having children at home all day instead of in school."

“We encourage those families not to wait for disconnection.  Crisis Assistance Ministry exists, through the generosity of this community, for just this kind of situation.”

What families should bring when seeking assistance:

Mecklenburg County residents seeking assistance should arrive by 8:00 a.m. Monday through Friday at Crisis Assistance Ministry’s main office at 500-A Spratt Street.   (Applicants are discouraged from arriving before 7:45 a.m.  Assistance is NOT provided on a first-come, first-serve basis, but rather based on the urgency and immediacy of the emergency.)

Applicants should bring the following items along with them when applying for financial assistance:

  • Picture ID for the applying client
  • Social Security documentation for all household members: social security card, documentation from the Social Security Administration verifying social security number, W2 form from an employer or paystub indicating the nine-digit social security number, or W7 if applicable.  If you are not registered with the Social Security Administration you are required to provide some form of identification. 
  • Proof of all household income for the past 30 days. Clients who are paid every week are required to present four current paystubs. Clients who are paid bi-weekly are required to present two current paystubs, and clients who are paid monthly are required to bring one current pay stub. Clients who receive unemployment, SSI or SSA, VA Pension, Retirement Pension, Child Support, Disability, and/or income from family or friends are required to present a statement of income verification. Clients who are self-employed are required to present income verification.
  • All disconnection and past due utility statements. These should be in the applying clients name and that person must reside in the household.
  • Rental lease (even if seeking utility assistance)

How the process works:

On a typical day, nearly 200 families will seek assistance with rent, utilities, clothing, or furniture, so applicants may wait several hours to meet with staff or trained volunteers to assess their situation.  If financial assistance is approved, emergency rent or utility payments will be made directly to landlords or utility providers.

On busy days, some customers will spend the entire day here.  Following these tips will make the visit less stressful:

  • Bring all the documents listed to ensure most efficient service.
  • Plan to spend most of the day at the agency – just in case.
  • Bring a snack or lunch – there are vending machines, but they often empty quickly on busy days.
  • Bring a book or an internet enabled device (phone, tablet, laptop) and charger. Free Wifi is available in the lobby.
  • Make childcare arrangements.  If you must bring a child along, bring along books, crayons, or other items to entertain your child and adequate diapers and other supplies for full day.
  • Wear weather appropriate clothing – we do our best to quickly seat everyone inside the building, but the line may extend outside, especially on busy days.

Detailed instructions for those seeking assistance are available at http://crisisassistance.org/gethelp

Want to help?

Crisis Assistance Ministry depends on public and private funds to ensure families are able to stay in their homes, with their utilities intact, and their basic needs met. Details on how to make a financial contribution or donation of material goods like coats, clothing, and essential furniture are online at http://crisisassistance.org/.  

About Crisis Assistance Ministry

Crisis Assistance Ministry is Mecklenburg County’s Lead Agency offering emergency assistance to impoverished families.  Specifically, Crisis Assistance Ministry helps families facing financial crisis by:  providing for basic needs with rent and utility assistance, clothing, household goods, furniture and appliances; fostering financial stability through partnerships, counseling, and support to give families the tools they need to move toward stability; and educating the community about the realities of poverty in Mecklenburg County.  Visit them online at www.crisisassistance.org to learn more about preventing homelessness and preserving dignity.

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