Utility assistance phone bank opens to high demand - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Ben Watson

Utility assistance phone bank opens to high demand

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Monday was the first official day to sign up for the nearly $6 million Shelby County is handing out for utility assistance.

From the moment the CSA phone bank officially opened, stories about high utility bills and pleas for help came pouring in.

"I ain't had utilities on in three months," potential applicant Gina Resavy said.

Resavy came to the CSA office in person asking for help. However, she and many others were told that appointments must be made by phone first.  Only then can a person go in to speak with a counselor.
"It's just that there is so much need in our community. The economic situation is not the best, utility bills have gone up, people just running out of jobs. People just need help," Dottie Jones of CSA said.

Increasing the need is this year, officials said, is the ongoing economic crisis.

"I think about all the people with adjustable rate mortgages that have gone up recently and you know if they're paying everything they can to keep their house, and so other things go by the wayside," Jones said.

Resavy agreed, saying she needs help because she is unemployed.
"We just had to apply for government assistance - food stamps and all that stuff - 'cause it's hard, especially if you got kids and there is only one person working in the household," Resavy said.

Officials said an estimated 500 people called asking for help on the first official day. So many called, they are now booked for appointments until February.

If you need utility assistance, call 901-362-6518 or 380-3756. Officials say who is eligible for the assistance depends on income, age, and the number of people in your household. If you qualify, you will be given up to $600 in assistance.

Click here to e-mail Ben Watson.

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