Assistance with Utility Bills
If you are struggling to pay your utility bill or feel that you are being forced to choose between paying for utilities and buying food or medicine, you may qualify for assistance. Many local agencies offer financial assistance for utility customers who are at risk of having their utility services interrupted. Each agency has different requirements for each of their programs but the following information will explain some of the basics of the assistance process.
Qualifying for Assistance
The Federal government sets the income limits which constitute poverty level, but most assistance agencies will help with utility bills even if a customer's household income is 150% above poverty level, and in some cases your income can be 200% above poverty level. There are programs designated to help households with young children, and some that only assist when there is an emergency situation. Some programs' funds are reserved specifically for a household where the customer is elderly, handicapped, or has recently been laid off from their job. There are agencies that provide funding for terminally ill customers and ones that are available for customers who are at risk of losing their utilities but may not fit into a specific category.
Working with Agencies
Most agencies will require various pieces of information in order to process your application so that they can validate that you meet the guidelines of their programs. They usually ask for income verification such as a picture ID, Social Security cards for all members of your household including the children, copies of your household expenses and a copy of your most recent utility bill. Often a social worker or agent of the organization will contact the City to confirm specific payment arrangements if the City has agreed to accept less than your total past due amount to keep your services on.
Agencies normally have a limit on the amount of assistance they can offer to an individual household and those limits are mandated by their program guidelines. Most programs only allow a customer to receive assistance once during a 12-month period or during a "heating season". If the programs are federally funded, they are usually administered by the local county Departments of Social Services, so the county in which you reside may also be a determining factor in where you go to try and get help.
The City of Rocky Mount sponsors the Winter Assistance for Rocky Mount (W.A.R.M) utility assistance program. For more information about this program, please click here
We are here to help
Sometimes the assistance process can be frustrating and you may feel like you are being shuffled from one place to another, but often the agencies make their commitments contingent upon an amount that has to be paid by the customer or another agency. Remember even when you feel like you are getting the runaround, the agencies have guidelines and every dollar of assistance you can get is money that you don't have to come up with. In order to help you understand the world of assistance agencies, the City of Rocky Mount has a Customer Assistance office that can help determine if you might qualify for programs in our area. Please call 972-1250 and ask about how an assistance program may help you.