Shelby County wins $5.7 million grant for utility assistance - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Kontji Anthony

Shelby County wins $5.7 million grant for utility assistance

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Nearly $6 million in utility assistance will soon be available for people all over Shelby County. Tuesday, Mayor AC Wharton announced who can get their hands on that utility assistance money and how after the county won a $5.7 million federal grant.
With climbing unemployment rates, Wharton said a financial boost for utility customers could not come sooner.

"You've heard of the bailouts on Wall Street.  Most of the people we're helping are not walking around habitually asking for a handout," Wharton said.
Utility assistance will go to homes with an adult age 60 and up, a child age 5 and under, or a person who is disabled.

"Those are the folks who, unless we have this kind of dollar available, they have no where to go," utility assistance coordinator Kaye Lawler said.

Tuesday, phones were already ringing off the hook from people asking for aid.  Families will get an average of $600, but only one time within a 12-month period, which was why county officials asked for patience.    
"If you don't get through the first day, it doesn't mean we're out of appointments and it doesn't mean we're out of money.  It just means you might have to keep calling on the second and third day," community services director Dottie Jones said.

The county's utility assistance fund was empty when the county applied for the grant, and the mayor said there is still more need than money. So he is also encouraging donations.

"We will be making a concerted appeal to the faith-based institutions," Wharton said.

For every dollar you donate, the federal government will match it, times two.

If you think you qualify for utility assistance, call the Shelby County Call Center at 901-380-3756 or 901-362-6518 between 8am and 4pm weekdays. You must make an appointment.

Click here to e-mail Kontji Anthony.

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