Utility Assistance Program Saves Woman and Four-Legged Best Friend from Homelessness

Utility Assistance Program Saves Woman and Four-Legged Best Friend from Homelessness

“Somebody does care ‘bout an old woman and her dog,” Ms. Stella told us after worrying about how to pay her power bill last winter.

She and her four-legged companion Joe literally could’ve been out on the street as public housing will evict a tenant if their electricity or heat is shut off. Joe had gotten sick and she made the choice to take him to the vet, and even though the vet gave her a very reduced price for the dog’s medicine and didn’t charge her for the office visit, for Ms. Stella $37 was the difference in being able to pay her electric bill in full.

“I know what would happen to me – they’d put me out and stick me in a home someplace,” she said. “I know what would happen to Joe too, a sick old dog, they’d kill him. He would never be adopted.”

“But me and Joe we need each other,” she added. “He wakes me up every morning and he is the reason that I do get up. You saved two lives when you helped me with that power bill.”

But that’s not the end of the story. Our partner there Caring Hands Ministries was able to put her in touch with a church group that will bring Ms. Stella supper once a week and visits with her.

And as for old Joe, Caring Hands reached out to the local humane society which is helping her with the cost of his food, medicine, and shots.

It’s cold out there

It’s cold out there

It’s cold out there.

Many of us turn the heat up and remain cozy at home when it gets cold. But for too many Appalachian families that’s not the case. Our emergency utility assistance program has helped hundreds of families stay warm. It has helped senior citizens and families with young children to heat their home on the coldest days of winter. Sometimes they had to choose between paying their electric bill or putting food on the table.

After working with our partners over the years we’ve learned that our program also helps prevents homelessness.

In some cases, there are times that if the rent is paid in full, landlords will evict tenants who have their utilities cut off. Not only is there is a fear that pipes on their properties could freeze and burst in unheated apartments, but there is also a belief that because they could not pay their electric bill that month, they may not be able to pay their rent the next.

Parents could lose temporary custody of their children. The state human services agencies will not allow children to remain in a home without utilities. Which means that the children will be taken and put in foster care until the situation.
For most Americans, the thought of losing their home, or worse, their children, because of an unpaid electric bill is unimaginable
Not for these families.