St. Louis County Helps Heatupstlouis.org Take A Bite Out of Old Man Winter – Early; A $150,000 Utility Assistance Grant
In what is considered an historic first, St. Louis County today has signed an agreement with Heatupstlouis.org, a regional, not-profit public education, advocacy and utility assistance charity to spent a $150,000 for utility grants for its area qualified residents in need. Heatupstlouis.org receives help from the generosity of some St. Louis County residents. However the need has significantly increased and public donations have dwindled, often based on warmer winters. But the need is still there due to the issue of utility affordability.
The grant given to the charity’s “Helping Hands of Warmth,” project will provide opportunities for area qualified St. Louis County residents, who are seniors, the disabled and low income people needing help to pay down delinquent summer electric bills, or help them reconnect their natural gas services for the upcoming 2015/16 winter heating season, which begins November lst when the Cold Weather Rule is in effect. Most utility ratepayers go into the winter heating season facing summer electric bills and previous winter unpaid natural gas bills. Heatupstlouis.org is now helping county residents with these funds through October 31, or while funding lasts.
“Government can’t do it all, but in partnership with Heatupstlouis.org and its affiliate agencies, we can help take the emotional chills away from many financially challenged county residents, and for others, ensure now that they will not have a chilly home this fall or winter, because we’ve all helped take the heat off of their very low, to-no home budgets,” said St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger, who signed an agreement with Heatupstlouis.org board chairwoman Melanie DiLeo.
“Steve and St. Louis County’s financial move reflects a significant commitment by St. Louis County in the principles and good practice of humanitarian donorship, hopefully other surrounding counties will now follow the path of good government with a heart,” said Heatupstlouis.org Chairwoman Melanie DiLeo.
Also late fall and winter usually has the highest incidents of fire, due to unsafe methods of heating homes, while depending on space heaters as a primary heating source. This presents a problem for the firefighting community.
“Each year, old man winter beats down our poorest of the poor, so, today’s historic St. Louis County/Heatupstlouis.org partnership with the initial $150,000 investment is an investment in saving lives, and giving many a second chance for a safe and healthier winter. If you think you qualify, please go online to heatupstlouis.org,” said Fire Chief Dennis Jenkerson, representing the Greater St. Louis Area Fire Chiefs Association.
The St. Louis County donation was made possible through a Community Development Block Grant and has a deadline of October 31, 2015 to use all of the funds. As of Thursday’s press conference, Heatupstlouis.org has already expended about $50,000. The individual utility grants go as high as $650 per qualified household. Proof of residency, income, photo I.D. and a delinquent or disconnected utility bill are required for low-income households. However, St. Louis County seniors who have kept on their air-conditioners and feel that can’t afford to pay their utility bills, don’t require a disconnection or delinquent bill
“Need has no boundaries and after these funds are gone – and they will be gone; we welcome more County government funds and encourage the generous donations from my County neighbors, who are known for their generosity, “ said Reverend C. Jessel Strong, immediate past president, the Metropolitan Clergy Coalition of Greater St. Louis and an executive board member of Heatupstlouis.org. “We’re that regional safety net, when all other funds are exhausted people can count on us in getting an earlier jump on old man winter is critical, especially families with small children and sick seniors.”
Heatupstlouis.org chairwoman Melanie DiLeo stressed that the myth that only the urban core of big cities needing utility assistance has been shattered, by the financial committed move of St. Louis County, and the fact that from October, 2014 through May, 2015 more than $6 million has been spent through federal, state and public funding sources like Heatupstlouis.org in St. Louis County alone. St. Louis County residents who want to qualify can log-on to heatupstlouis.org or call the automated 314-241-7668 hotline, after Thursday, 12 Noon.