With the weak economy, demand for assistance to pay utility and heating bills has almost overwhelmed Wilson County's Salvation Army. The incredible demand and number of people struggling has led to families and individuals waiting in line for hours and hours, all of them who are seeking help.
The organization is doing its best to meet the need, and they have modified their assistance program. If a person's utility service is scheduled to be cutoff within a week, the Salvation will prioritize that persons application. The agency will see the resident before the scheduled cutoff date to determine what type of help they can offer. Also, if a persons utility service whose cutoff date is in the next day or so will be seen first. Others may need to wait.
High utility and heating bill rates have sparked an outcry recently in Wilson, which has lead to packed city council meetings, a protest on the courthouse steps, and a petition. The Salvation Army has helped distribute money that has been granted by the city and the federal government to assist residents with their bills.
While it may be incredible to believe, in a week's time the Salvation Army may administer anywhere from $10,000 to $15,000 in free vouchers to people to use for paying utility bills.
The City is also helping by providing additional funding. However the Salvation Army doesn’t expect the additional $50,000 the city has recently added to help residents with utilities to last more than a couple of weeks. So they are continually looking for donations to expand the size of the program.
Other programs run by the Salvation Army in the region include: job training, emergency lodges, help with utilities, medicine fuel and free food, dispensaries and clinics, general and maternity hospitals, counseling for single parents, employment services, emergency rental help, service to the armed forces, services in correctional institutions, adult rehabilitation centers, holiday meals, social service centers and Christmas appeals and kettles. Free fans are available to combat the North Carolina heat. Contact the Wilson North Carolina Salvation Army at (252) 446-4496.
The county is benefiting from American Recovery Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds. This is better known as the stimulus plan. While the stimulus plan may have its pros and cons, the bottom line is that grants are available to fund programs, including employment, job training, housing and rent assistance, emergency assistance for bills, and foreclosure counseling. Call them to find additional ways to get foreclosure help from NEED.
Section 8 housing is available, and is administered by the NEED office (see phone number below). Very low income families can gain access to affordable housing choices. They will be able to select their own homes and apartments to live in, provided they meet income and safety standards.
Head Start will help the low income families prepare their children for school. The federal government paid for program provides preschool education that meets nationally recognized standards; healthy, nutritious groceries, meals and snacks; and a variety of free medical, health and dental services, including full services for low income families and children with disabilities.
Referrals to financial aid and non-profits are available. Case managers from NEED can link qualified low income families to everything from grants for security deposits or utility bills (such as LIHEAP) to public aid. The community action agency is committed to helping those in poverty.
USDA Food Service offers free food, groceries, and other items for children as well as people who are struggling to feed their families.
The Nash-Edgecombe Economic Development Inc. (NEED), which is the local Wilson County community agency, is administering the government monies. The community agency can be reached at (252) 206-0763 or 206-0756. Other programs are offered too, and learn more.
Wilson County non-profits, churches, and charities may offer rent and/or security deposit assistance. The goal is to stop or limit homelessness, especially among the vulnerable population such as senior citizens or the unemployed. Find where to apply for a grant or loan to pay for housing needs, and learn more on rent help in Wilson County.
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