Help Available to Pay Heating Bills

Help Available to Pay Heating Bills

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Jed Boal ReportingAs temperatures drop and heating costs rise, many Utahns find themselves in a crisis. Critical programs to help people with heating costs also need a financial charge.

We'll all pay more for heat this winter. For some people, though, it's not about dialing down to cut costs, it's a choice between getting help or homelessness.

When Cheryl Wallace looks after her grandson he'll have his coat on indoors this winter. Wallace dials way down, trying to make ends meet with help from the Red Cross. She was disabled by a workplace accident a year ago.

Cheryl Wallace, Assistance Recipient: "I wasn't working, I was on unemployment. It got worse and worse until I had to ask for help."

Like many Utahns, she was always self-sufficient and never needed help before. Governor John Huntsman, Jr. wants us all to know how to get help or give help in this heating crisis.

Governor John Huntsman, Jr.: "Sadly, this winter we know it's going to come down to choices of food, or medication or heat. We think we ought to be able to step in and do something as a community."

The assistance programs for low-income families are three million dollars short. Last year 36,000 low-income households needed help.

Pamela Atkinson, Community Activist: "We cannot allow people to use their rent money to pay their heating bills and end up out one the streets."

REACH is the Utah Power Program that helps with electric bills. Lend-A-Hand is the Questar program to help with natural gas. 2-1-1 is a good first call if you need help.

Cheryl Wallace was devastated to find herself in dire straights and very surprised to discover there was a way out.

Cheryl Wallace: "I really appreciate it. I hope I never need help again, but it's nice to know it's there for people who really need it."

2-1-1 is the number to call for help with energy bills. Operators can point you in the right direction from there. To contribute, look for the envelopes on your gas and electric bills.

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