There are programs to help pay utility bills

Tallahassee’s utility payment center. Photo by WCTv

The city of Tallahassee is offering utility payment programs for low-income residents and for those who are disabled or going through a sudden hardship.

The city’s Project Share Initiative, the Good Neighbors, and Salvation Army, are a few programs that provide utility assistance for Tallahassee residents. These programs fall under the Capital Area Community Action. If you contact CACA, it will place you in a program that best suits your situation.

CACA is a private non-profit organization 501 (c)(3) created in 1965 as the Leon County-Tallahassee Community Action Program to serve only Leon County residents, according to its website.

Th aid Capital Area Community provides can come from charities, churches or the government.

Lupe Quandero is an example of how useful the program is for Tallahassee residents, Quandero and her husband are self-employed and own a produce company. During Hurricane Micheal the majority of their produce was destroyed, which made it hard for them to keep up with bills. They applied for food stamps and were referred to Salvation Army.

“They will help us pay for our utilities this month because after the hurricane the produce is not putting out as much as it was, work is a lot less than we’re used to,” said Quandero. “This will help us to at least pay other bills with the money we were going to use for utilities.”

The Salvation Army will only give utility assistance once a year, and residents have to have proof of hardship to qualify.

“We only work with current bills so you would have to have some type of hardship, in order to get assistance,” Salvation Army social worker Courtney Cunnings said. “Hardships can be a lost income, car repairs, something that happened that made you unable to pay your bills.”

Winter is around the corner but you can already feel the warm air coming in. CACCA has a Winter Relief Assistance Program that offers utility bill assistance during the winter for households struggling to pay their bill because they’re experiencing higher energy bills due to extreme cold weather.

Florida in general has utility assistance for residents in different cities; it can be found through Florida Public Service Commission.

Customers who are in a crisis situation and unable to pay their electric bills often call the Florida Public Service Commission for assistance. The PSC regulates utilities under its jurisdiction and serves consumers in all utility regulatory matters. Fortunately, many Florida utilities have funds that help low-income individuals or families in crisis cover home energy needs, according to the Florida Public Service Commission website. These funds come from corporate contributions, company employee donations, and customer contributions are administered by local nonprofit and/or government agencies. This publication provides contact information for Florida’s electric utilities, so consumers can call them directly to tap into the large network of social-service organizations located in their service territories.

All of the programs mentioned have offices in Tallahassee.