Valley services see higher demand for rent, utility assistance
Those recurring bills like heating your home and rent continue to be a burden on some families struggling to get along.
Add in inflation and the upcoming holiday season, local charities tell 21 News they're seeing even more of a wave of people knocking on their doors for help.
"We are seeing a lot of new people," explained Nancy Voitus, Executive Director with Catholic Charities Regional Association. "People who have never asked for help before are coming for help."
Because of things like flat-lined income and added inflation, local programs like Catholic Charities tell 21 News now more than ever, people are coming to them for rent assistance.
"People's rent is going up and utility costs are up," Voitus explained. "Because gas and food prices are up, people just can't keep up. It seems like a snowball effect."
TCAP's winter service program funds people's coal, fuel, oil, wood, propane natural gas, and electric. They're seeing about a 10% increase in demand.
"Which is going to grow as the rates go up," explained Sarah Edmonds, Client Services Supervisor and HEAP Coordinator with TCAP. "Even my rate went up. We can help them pay a portion of their disconnection shut-off notices and restore services."
"We try in some capacity to help people," Voitus said.
Catholic Charities is doing the best it can with the demand. Sometimes, they have to direct people to other programs if they aren't eligible to receive help from them. This could include income-based restrictions, the effects of COVID-19, the status of homelessness, or risk of homelessness. "There are some parameters we have to follow but we try to help everyone," Voitus added.
"We want to encourage people, don't be embarrassed," Voitus added. "All of us could be in the same shoes that you're in. We all try to work together. We realize none of us can do it ourselves."
"People should open up their bills and not wait until the last minute when their service is going to be turned off," Edmonds added. "Open those bills, see when you have those shut-off notices, and get in touch with programs as soon as you can so you can be assisted."
Below is a list of resources in the Mahoning and Shenango Valleys to go to for rent and utility assistance: