Originally published: December 9, 2022
United Way of the Midlands reports 15,000 people need help with utilities in the metro this year
OMAHA, Neb. —
If you’re looking for help with your utilities, it’s just three numbers away. Simply by calling 211 you’ll get connected to The United Way of the Midlands.
With more than 150 in the metro, they’ll set you up with the right charity.
The United Way of the Midlands says thousands of people in the metro needed help paying the bills this year.
And utility support may be needed now that some homeowners will start to pay more for certain utilities.
The MUD board just approved a new budget that raises fees for both water and natural gas. Sewer use rates are also going up next year. OPPD is proposing raising some of its fees.
Matt Wallen, a senior vice president at The United Way of the Midlands, says paying rent and utilities is a struggle that just isn’t going away.
“Now what we see this past year, is that we had 325,000 contacts and we thought it would go down a little bit as we came out of COVID and started to recover a bit and the call volume continues to be really strong,” Wallen said.
By calling 211, The United Way can connect you to the help that you need.
“And it’s got a database of over three thousand non-profit agencies that offer services. And it’s statewide, you can call it anywhere and it’s really driven by zip code,” he said.
Some of the programs are meant for those well below the poverty line.
“When you look at like a LIHEAP program, it’s 150% of the federal poverty level. That’s $41,000 a year for a family of four,” he said.
Others can help a family with a temporary setback.
“And if someone’s coming through, again, a high medical bill that really threw the family budget out of whack for the month. Or if there’s a job loss or if there’s some extenuating circumstance that creates an emergency in that family, that’s why you should call 211,” Wallen said.
Wallen says making the call is the first step to getting help.
“That’s why you should call 211, 211 will take down your information, will identify the best funding source and get you that referral to get you the supports that you need,” he said.