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3News Keep the Lights On utility shutoffs

‘Preserve the Lights on CLE’ is a marketing campaign to boost cash for these in our group dealing with utility shutoffs. To donate, go to www.KeepTheLightsOnCLE.org

CLEVELAND — Gwendolyn Garth wears many hats: artist, activist, and considered one of tens of millions of Individuals struggling to make ends meet within the wake of COVID-19.

“Is it a relentless battle?” requested 3News reporter Rachel Polansky.

“Sure, sure it’s. Just like the man that be juggling the bowling pins ya know, boy don’t miss one,” stated Garth.

Whereas the 69-year-old Cleveland resident has been in a position to get some assist from PIPP and different authorities help applications, funds stay a serious problem.

Proper now, she owes $8,000 in past-due gasoline and electrical payments.

“They robotically put you on a cost plus plan which is sort of a third of your authentic invoice. For me, it was $900 and one thing {dollars},” stated Garth.

“It was $900 and one thing a month?” Polansky requested.

“Yeah and at that second I felt sheer defeat,” stated Garth.

Garth lives on $444 {dollars} from Social Safety every month, plus no matter she will be able to make from her art work.

RELATED: Preserve the lights on: 3News launches new marketing campaign to boost cash for these dealing with utility shutoffs

Her utilities have been disconnected previously. Proper now, she’s getting by.

However as with every climb out of debt, she has an extended highway forward.

“I cannot be at nighttime once more, metaphorically and actually. If any utility has to go, it will be the gasoline,” stated Garth.

“What’s it like getting a shutoff discover?” Polansky requested Jennifer Toth, a Lakewood resident.

“It’s just about the dying of your dignity,” stated Toth.

Disabled with Lupus for 16 years, Toth’s social safety revenue is fastened. Her days of fear should not.

“I get up each day pondering, is that this the day that the worst may occur?” requested Toth.

CHN Housing Companions, a nonprofit company concerned in administering help to Cuyahoga County residents, tells 3News Investigates that 14,700 Northeast Ohioans have utilized for help for the reason that begin of the pandemic.

Candidates inform CHN that they’ve misplaced greater than $215 million in complete revenue loss. That comes out to a roughly $21,000 revenue loss per particular person.

Nearly all of candidates reported job loss or lowered hours resulting from COVID-19. Nearly all of candidates have been additionally African American.

To this point, CHN has made 5,500 funds to utility suppliers, totaling $12 million, on behalf of candidates. Nonetheless, the necessity for assist far outweighs the out there funding.

That’s a part of the rationale WKYC Studios and CHN Housing Companions launched our ‘Preserve the Lights On CLE’ marketing campaign, an effort to boost cash for these in our group dealing with utility shutoffs.

Whereas the marketing campaign gained’t remedy the basis problems with the disaster, the hope is to supply some non permanent reduction to these in want.

“We’re seeing an unprecedented want throughout this disaster, and it is a totally different want than what we have seen earlier than due to all of the job loss folks have had,” stated Kevin Nowak, govt director of CHN Housing Companions.

Nowak stated this disaster is not only affecting low-income households – but additionally those that have by no means utilized for help earlier than.

“We’re seeing first-time candidates,” stated Nowak. “The restaurant employee at your favourite restaurant the place the restaurant closed or had lowered hours. The service employee, or healthcare employee, that single mother who wanted to take break day to care for their youngsters as a result of their youngsters weren’t in class as a result of the colleges have been closed. That every one leads to folks not having the ability to pay their payments and never having the ability to maintain their lights on.”

RELATED: Preserve the lights on: The necessity for utility help in Northeast Ohio far outweighs the out there funding

Some folks might not qualify for help as a result of their revenue just isn’t under a sure % of the federal poverty tips.

Others might not qualify as a result of they have not been unemployed lengthy sufficient.

“It gives flexibility for us to handle extra want. We solely have a sure pot of {dollars} offered by the federal government. These {dollars} should not as versatile as many individuals will want they usually do not cowl your whole viewing space. So what this [Keep the Lights On CLE] permits us to do, is fill the gaps inside the system,” stated Nowak.

You may head to www.KeepTheLightsOnCLE.org to donate. Each nickel we elevate will go towards Northeast Ohioans dealing with utility shutoffs.

After all, this marketing campaign is not going to clear up the utility disaster. Our hope is to convey some short-term reduction for many who really want it.

This marketing campaign was born out of a WKYC Studios report with Northeast Ohio Options Journalism Collaborative.

Q: How will folks get the cash that I’m donating?

A: The cash will go on to the utility supplier – not the particular person – so you understand your cash goes to pay somebody’s utility invoice.

Q: Who will get the cash that I’m donating?

A: Northeast Ohioans who can’t entry different sources of help via current applications. CHN Housing Companions will vet candidates, making certain that solely these actually in want are getting assist.

Q: How lengthy will the marketing campaign final?

A: The marketing campaign ends on March 22nd.

A: Go to www.KeepTheLightsOnCLE.org to make a tax-deductible donation.

Editor’s word: the video within the participant under is from a narrative printed on Feb. 22, 2021.

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