Help is available to keep energy flowing

Published Thursday, March 1, 2018

CHARLOTTE, NC, February 26, 2018 – Plummeting temperatures earlier this year mean skyrocketing power and gas bills are arriving in Charlotte households this month.  Crisis Assistance Ministry wants families to know help is available to avoid loss of utilities.

“We’re seeing families coming for help with bills up to double their typical month” said Tovi Martin, communications manager for the non-profit agency. “That’s daunting. But there is help available for many who are struggling—especially families with health conditions in the home.”

While low-income Mecklenburg County residents can always seek emergency rent or utility assistance at Crisis Assistance Ministry, unique funding is available to assist those most at risk:  homes facing imminent disconnection who have at least one person suffering from a health condition.

“No one should be camping in their own homes,” says Martin. “But it is critically important that we reach out to families with these kinds of health risks to keep their power or gas flowing.”

Who is eligible?

Priority is placed on Mecklenburg County residents in need who:

  • Have a pending disconnection notice for electricity or gas or are already disconnected
  • Have someone in the home with current or chronic health conditions
  • Have a household income within 150% of the federal poverty level*

* Families who fit these criteria can call the energy hotline at 704.227.3699 to check eligibility and find out how to apply.

 What families should bring when seeking energy assistance:

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

Individuals and families seeking assistance should arrive by 8:00 a.m. 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. 
  • Rental lease (even if seeking utility assistance)
  • Proof of all household income for the past 30 days. 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.

How the process works:

On a typical day, nearly 200 families will seek assistance with rent, utilities, clothing, or furniture.  Applicants will meet face-to-face with a caseworker to review their situation and determine what resources may be available to resolve the immediate crisis.  If financial assistance is approved, emergency rent or utility payments will be made directly to landlords or utility providers.

Applicants can help make their visit more efficient by following these tips:

  • Bring all the documents listed above.
  • Bring a book or an internet enabled device (phone, tablet, laptop) and charger. Free Wi-Fi 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.
  • Bring a snack or other refreshments you may need. There are vending machines, but on busy days they often empty quickly.
  • 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. Help is needed right now to keep families’ utilities on and homes intact.

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/waystogive

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, bedding, 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.  In FY2017, more than 21,000 families received some form of assistance from the agency. Visit them online at www.crisisassistance.org to learn more about preventing homelessness and preserving dignity.

###