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Ideastream Public Media ideastream.org 24 Jan, 2023 03:15 am

People are having trouble paying utility bills. Here's how to get help

People are having trouble paying utility bills. Here's how to get help
The Cleveland nonprofit CHN Housing Partners says more people have applied for financial assistance with utility bills in recent years.Laurie Leverette, director of utilities and emergency services, said rising utility costs are driving more people to the nonprofit for the first time to seek help. There always has been a significant need, though, because of the city’s high poverty rate.

How Cuyahoga County residents can get help with gas, electric, water and sewer bills CHN and fellow Cleveland nonprofit Step Forward administer the applications for the federal Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) and the state's Percentage of Income Payment Plan (PIPP).They can just apply digitally or by dropping off their application at CHN or Step Forward’s drop boxes.While CHN and Step Forward are the two places to apply for state utility assistance programs in Cleveland, there are separate energy assistance agencies in every other county.Those are the two main electric and gas assistance programs in Ohio.

Leverette explained that for those seeking crisis assistance during the winter months, applicants will typically receive a 30-day hold on their electric or gas accounts from their energy provider after they've received a disconnection notice, and then another five-day hold after they meet with a CHN representative."A lot of what we see is missing documents," Leverette said.

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