Non-profits aim to help residents with increasing utility bills

Published: Jul. 28, 2020 at 7:27 PM EDT
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Governor Roy Cooper said on Tuesday that he will not extend the moratoriums on utility cutoffs and evictions during the pandemic.

With utility bills a growing concern for North Carolinian's, some organizations are trying to help those still facing increasing balances.

While The Salvation Army of New Bern provides much need support to their communities in a variety of ways, from food pantries and family stores, to red holiday kettles, that need is stretching even further during the pandemic for many with utility bills piling up.

“It is scary for them. The panic in their voice is more than it was last year,” says Case Manager Nancy White.

With concerns about Governor Cooper's moratorium on utilities ending on Wednesday, it's a frightening time for many in an unfamiliar position.

“There’s more unemployment because of this pandemic. They’re struggling more, their unemployment has run out. They can’t find jobs,” White explains.

But she says they're office is prepared to help as many people as they can -- provided they have the resources to do so.

“We ask them if they have any income coming in, how many people live in the household? If they did receive any stimulus check or unemployment,” White describes.

But because those resources are finite, they and other non-profit organizations, like Coastal Community Action in Newport, are often limited to one-time services.

"Sometimes because have a lot of funding for each family, we're not able to do as much as we like to do," says Program Director Stephanie Cox.

Though even one month's help can relieve a major burden.

"There is possible grace periods for them with the utility bills but we like to intercept that, that way it's not piling up on them," Cox explains.

With some areas hurting more than others, many non-profits are ready and prepared to continue their service.

The City of New Bern says they have roughly 700 households that are behind on their utility bills, owing on average about $613.

Morehead City says they have just over 500 customers behind on payments, averaging $217 still owed.

Cox says that they are seeing higher needs in Craven and Carteret counties particularly, so they already have grant funds allocated to those areas.

Coastal Community Action services Carteret, Craven, Jones, and Pamlico counties.

The Salvation Army of New Bern services Craven and Pamlico counties.

Copyright 2020 WITN. All rights reserved.

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