Help With Your Utility Bills Is More Than Just Payment Arrangements
Single moms are much more likely than two parent households to live at or below the poverty line.
As a result, basic essentials are much more likely to either not be paid, or to be paid late. You are usually allowed to make payment arrangements, like paying a bill late or only making a partial payment, once in a while but eventually you will be expected to pay your bills on time and in full.
Obviously, you never want to pay the bills late. But when you literally don’t have the money, how are you supposed to pay bills on time? That’s when it is time to look around to see who can help you.
As with most types of assistance, there may be quicker solutions that only pay once a year, and longer term assistance that might be able to pay a portion of your bill each month for a specific period of time.
Local churches, even if you are not currently a member, will often offer some limited amount of assistance if you meet their qualifications.. If you are a member of a church, it may be possible to get a larger amount of help, or more frequent grants. As with almost any kind of help that churches offer, it may be necessary to contact numerous churches or to wait until a certain day or time to get the help that you need. Some churches offer financial counselors, and if so, they may be able to let you know of other resources in your community.
I actually had to ask my church for help once. Several years ago, I had made payment arrangements on an electric bill, but somehow it didn’t go into their system properly. Therefore, my lights were turned off. I wound up having to borrow money from a family member (who did not actually like me very much, but helped me anyway) to pay it, and the billing department deferred fifty dollars of it, based on my church being willing to pay some of it.
LIHEAP is a federally funded program that helps with cooling and heating costs. They do not offer this service directly to you, but instead are able to offer it in every state in the U.S., plus the District of Columbia. Unfortunately, it is all too common for funds to be very limited or nonexistent by summertime, because they were used up too quickly during the winter. To apply, you should call the National Energy Assistance Referral program at 1-866-674-6327.
To apply, you will be asked to provide at least:
- Proof of Social Security Cards for everyone in the household.
- Verification of earned or unearned income for everyone in the household who is working
- Recent utility statements, or a shut off noticed if you have one for the current billing cycle
- Documentation of residency, like your lease, mortgage statement, or rent receipt
- Proof of citizenship or legal alien status for each family member
In general, as long as funds are available and you are approved, you would be able to receive one or more of the following:
- Assistance with existing or future utility bills
- Help to assure that your home is as energy efficient as possible
- Aid to repair energy related repairs to your home
- Energy crisis aid
Your utility companies might know of other help that is available in your area. It is often possible to receive more than grant to help with your utility bills, although you should always check to make sure you are not accidentally breaking rules.
Everyone knows how expensive it can be to keep the house cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Believe me, nobody wants you to live without utilities, and no-one wants your children to suffer.
You should apply for the grants that you need from as many places as possible, because it might take weeks or months for your assistance to be approved. It is always appropriate to apply as early as possible, and to call back to check on the status of your aid. It would be awful to have your application slip through the cracks, and ever so often, you might get pushed higher on the waiting list, simply because you called back and someone else didn’t.