GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) — The Greensboro Housing Coalition is seeing an uptick in the number of people needing help to pay utilities.
“People are desperate. People are calling and crying. People are getting extremely frustrated,” Executive Director Josie Williams said.
She said substandard housing is partially to blame for the increase. Williams sifted through a pile of checks to provide assistance, pulling a water bill that totaled more than $3,300.
“When your water gets cut off, that’s grounds for condemnation. We can’t have people out here with their water getting cut off due to nonpayment because they can’t afford it. And, in this case, this was no fault of her own. This was a maintenance issue that she tried to remedy to no avail,” Williams said.
She said collection grace periods from the pandemic are expiring, with past bills accumulating.
“If I had to categorize them and put them in order, I would say high water bills then high Duke Energy bills then high internet bills,” Williams said.
The majority of calls for rent and utility relief come from the east and southeast districts in Greensboro.
“I think people are getting beyond their fear of asking for help. I think there is such a desperation that’s building that people are now saying ‘please help me,’” she said.
Williams says nearly all her clients are working to support their families.
“We’re talking about children that are having to work from home. A lot of times we’re talking about a lot of remote workers. People need that internet…people are at risk of losing that which is affecting your financial stability if they can’t work,” she said.
Williams said the end of the eviction moratorium has exacerbated the need.
Before the pandemic, the organization was getting about 100 calls weekly for help then 1,200 at the height of the pandemic.
Right now, the Greensboro Housing Coalition is getting about 1,400 calls weekly.
The City of Greensboro will receive an additional $10 million for its emergency rental assistance program to keep helping struggling families.
You can find the online application on the city’s COVID-19 housing assistance page.