In absence of GCCAA assistance other agencies stepping up to hel - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

In absence of GCCAA assistance other agencies stepping up to help pay power bills

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) -

As the temperatures are dropping some South Mississippians are trying to figure out how to keep the heater on since funding has been pulled on the Gulf Coast Community Action Agency's program to help low income families pay their power bill.

The Catholic Social and Community Services helps all kinds of people in need. Over the last few days the agency's director Jennifer Williams has seen an increase in calls with a specific request.

"They're worried that they're going to be disconnected and they're looking for help to keep their power on," said Williams.

Last year Williams' group helped over 2,000 people pay their power bills. She's hopeful even more can be helped this year.

"We receive generous grants from Mississippi Power, Coast Electric, Singing River Electric, as well as the Catholic Sharing Appeal that allows us to help people if they need it with a power bill or water bill," said Williams.

A release from the Department of Human Services said an interim program will be in place February 1 to take requests from people who've been receiving assistance from the Gulf Coast Community Action Agency. Janice O'Keefe, The Disability Connection executive director said a permanent partner will be named this summer.

"We were also told that by this summer, by May or June that agencies like Disabilities Connection will be able to apply to be a part of the solution. So that we can start helping people ourselves," said O'Keefe.

Until then O'Keefe explained her organization is already helping by pointing those in need to the right place.

"What we do is using our resource guide that we developed, we call the other agencies and try to plug them in to the places that can help them," said O'Keefe.

Although charities like Catholic and Social Services are stepping up, the help isn't designed to be a long term solution.

"If you're case is approved we're going to look at that one power bill," said Williams. "We're not going to necessarily help with six months of power bills."

Also Back Bay Mission is accepting applications to provide power bill assistance for a one-time use per year. If you're looking for more information on how to receive assistance you can contact any of the following agencies:

Catholic Social and Community Services: (228) 701-0555, (855) 847-0555 or catholiccharitiesbiloxi.org

Back Bay Mission: (228) 432-0301

Disability Connection: (228) 604-4020, (228) 870-7775 or DisabilityConnection.org

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