Calls pour into utility assistance hotline - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Ben Watson

Calls pour into utility assistance hotline

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - If you've received a cut-off notice on your utility bill, you might want to apply for help with Shelby County's Utility Assistance Center.

From the moment the call center opened Tuesday morning, residents from all around Shelby County began phoning, in asking for help.

"Call volume has been very heavy," said Dottie Jones of the Community Services Agency. "In the first 80 minutes that we were open - a little less than an hour and a half - we've had 240 calls. We've pre-qualified 177 people, and gave them appointments to come into the CSA offices to finish the application process."
         
For the next three days, people who have received cut off notices on their MLGW utility bill can call for an appointment to see if they qualify for assistance.

Rich Parham is one of dozens of volunteers who are working side-by-side with county workers, answering phones at the call center.

"It's a good feeling," he said. "I want to help out however I can, and when I can."

Parham is in the military, and has already served one tour of duty in Iraq...
   
"It just kind of changes your outlook with a lot of things, so I wanted to do more for the community and try to help out more if I could," he said.
  
Parham said he's well aware of economic conditions that are making it difficult for residents to pay utility bills, and he thinks it's great that Shelby County is trying to help those who need it.


Eligibility for assistance depends on income, age, and the number of people in your household.

If you qualify, you'll be given up to $600 in assistance.

You can call the Shelby County Community Services agency at 901-535-2200 through Thursday from 9:00am-7:30pm.  Lines will also be open Friday from 9:00am-4:30pm.


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