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Need for utility assistance in NE Ohio outweighs available funds

Keep the lights on: The need for utility assistance in Northeast Ohio far outweighs the available funding

‘Maintain the Lights on CLE’ is a marketing campaign to lift cash for these in our group dealing with utility shutoffs. To donate, go to

CLEVELAND — There have been seven winter-related deaths this month in Cuyahoga County. The vast majority of these deaths concerned older residents who died attributable to lack of warmth, in accordance with the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner.

1000’s of our neighbors are in disaster this winter – struggling to pay their utility payments — amid the continuing pandemic. Accessible help is depleted, leaving many nonetheless in want of assist.

To assist fill the void, WKYC Studios got here up with an concept to “maintain the lights on” in our group.

‘Maintain the Lights on CLE’ is a marketing campaign between WKYC Studios and CHN Housing Companions to lift cash for these in our group dealing with utility shutoffs.

To donate, go to Each nickel raised will go towards Northeast Ohioans dealing with utility shutoffs.

Main this effort is 3News Investigator Rachel Polansky, who has met with a number of residents dwelling day by day underneath the specter of mounting utility payments and shutoffs.

“I’m like what am I gonna do, what am I gonna do? And there was nothing to be completed,” mentioned Gwendolyn Garth, a Cleveland resident.

Whereas Garth 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 fuel and electrical payments.

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“Is it a continuing wrestle?” requested Polansky.

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

“What’s your largest worry?” Polansky requested Terrance Dewalt, a Cleveland resident and Military veteran.

“That I’d freeze to dying as a result of they’re gonna minimize my energy,” mentioned Terrance Dewalt, as he flipped by means of electrical, water and sewer payments. “What’s in my hand is payments which can be certainly on the point of shut off.”

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 whole revenue loss. That comes out to a roughly $21,000 revenue loss per individual.

The vast majority of candidates reported job loss or diminished hours attributable to COVID-19. The vast majority of candidates have been additionally African American.

Thus far, CHN has made 5,500 funds to utility suppliers, totaling 12 million {dollars}, on behalf of candidates. Nonetheless, the necessity for assist far outweighs the obtainable funding.

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

Nowak mentioned this disaster isn’t just affecting low revenue households – but additionally those that have by no means utilized for help earlier than.

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“We’re seeing first time candidates,” mentioned Nowak. “The restaurant employee at your favourite restaurant the place the restaurant closed or had diminished hours. The service employee, or healthcare employee, that single mother who wanted to take break day to handle their youngsters as a result of their youngsters weren’t at school as a result of the faculties have been closed. That each one ends in individuals not having the ability to pay their payments and never having the ability to maintain their lights on.”

Some individuals could not qualify for help as a result of their revenue shouldn’t be under a sure % of the federal poverty pointers.

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

Individuals like Garth and Dewalt are a part of the explanation WKYC Studios and CHN launched ‘Maintain the Lights On CLE.’

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

To donate, go to . Each nickel raised will go towards Northeast Ohioans dealing with utility shutoffs. These donation are tax deductible.

In fact, this marketing campaign is not going to remedy the utility disaster. Our hope is to carry some short-term reduction for individuals who actually need it.

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

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

A: The cash will go on to the utility supplier – not the individual – so you already know your cash goes to pay somebody’s utility invoice.

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

A: Northeast Ohioans who can not entry different sources of help by means of current applications. CHN Housing Companions will vet candidates, guaranteeing that solely these actually in want are getting assist.

Q: How lengthy will the marketing campaign final?

A: The marketing campaign begins on February 22nd and ends on March 22nd.

A: Go to to make a tax-deductible donation.

Extra from Rachel Polansky and Phil Trexler:

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