TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — After almost a year of no disconnections for its customers, the City of Tallahassee Utilities will resume disconnections. The city says it now has about $9.4 million in past-due bills, split between more than 12,000 people and businesses. But for people like Hattie Wilson, there's still concern.
"It's been a big stress because there's times when I'm trying to figure out how I'm going to make it from one day to the other," she said.
Like so many others throughout 2020, Wilson says her job had to cut back on hours, making it harder to pay her bills and take care of her family on her own.
"I tried to get assistance for my gas bill but I haven't been successful with that yet. I'm still seeking information on where to go to get help with that bill," she said.
Her next step is applying for Project Share. Anyone receiving utilities through the City of Tallahassee can help families like Wilson's. In 2020, about $40,000 was donated to help others. You can submit any amount you would like to donate on the city's website. Anyone looking for assistance can contact the city or Capital Area Community Action Agency. From there, the CACAA will determine if the applicant is eligible to tap into the money others have donated.
Capital Area Community Action Agency CEO Tim Center says that type of assistance isn't just for Tallahassee. The agency spans 8 counties.
"Community Action's been able to help a lot of folks in a number of ways. We're able to provide assistance with your utility bills, we're able to help you make your home more energy efficient, free child care programs with Head Start, and we've got programs designed to help you move out of poverty," said Center.
Center says once the pandemic hit, the agency saw more people looking to them for assistance. But they also saw more people reaching out to help.
"We had a number of individuals actually make contributions when they got a stimulus check from the federal government, saying 'I really don't need this.' And they encouraged their friends to donate to us as well," he said.
Those donations and more money coming in from the federal government are allowing CACAA to help more struggling families. The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity recently gave the agency federal money to help those in need.
"We serve about 10,000 people a year and we can serve a heck of a lot more this year thanks to some federal funding passed down to us from the Department of Economic Opportunity," said Center.
But there are qualifications to apply for many of the available programs. Hattie Wilson says she was turned away from the Leon CARES Assistance.
"My landlord didn't put the address in the letter so they disqualified me for that," she said.
If you're interested in applying for Project Share money, you have to be a City of Tallahassee utilities customer. You also have to meet one or more of these requirements.
- Sixty years of age or older
- Disabled or handicapped to the point of not being able to maintain a sufficient family income
- Has had income temporarily interrupted due to illness or injury, or other significant occurrence beyond the applicant’s control, including sudden loss or significant decrease in income resulting from natural disaster.
- Has a verifiable medical condition or health hazard that will be aggravated or caused by loss of utility services.
You'll have to give CACAA a call and go through the screening process in order to receive that rental assistance.
Anyone who receives utilities through The City of Tallahassee can donate by clicking here. Or call 850-891-4968. Anyone who uses Talquin or another company can call the Capital Area Community Action Agency at 850-222-2043.