Winter can be an especially difficult time of year for Craven County senior citizens and low-income residents who struggle to pay more than normal utility bills. But thanks to a number of county and state programs, local residents can get help with heat, water and other essentials during the coldest months of the year.
There are five programs available to residents through the Craven County Department of Social Services as well as the City of New Bern.
Crisis Intervention Program
The Crisis Intervention Program (CIP) is a federally funded program that provides assistance to eligible households who are experiencing a heating or cooling emergency. The goal of the CIP program is to help families stay warm in the winter and cool in the summer, reducing the risk of health and safety issues such as illness, fire, or eviction.
Benefits may vary based on the amount needed to resolve the crisis. An eligible household may receive assistance more than once during the state fiscal year (July through June).
The maximum allowable benefit amount may be up to $600 per claim, per crisis situation; However, benefits cannot exceed $600 per state fiscal year. All payments are made directly to the vendor.
This program is run on the basis of available funds.
For more information, visit www.cravencountync.gov/1862/Energy-Programs.
Low Income Energy Assistance Program
The Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIEAP) is a federally funded program that provides one-time vendor payments to eligible households to help pay their heating bills. Only households with an elderly person age 60 or older or a person with a disability receiving services through the Division of Aging and Adult Services may receive benefits from December 1 through December 31 or until funds are exhausted. are eligible. Any household can potentially avail the benefits from January 1 to March 31 or till the funds are exhausted.
For more information, visit www.cravencountync.gov/1862/Energy-Programs
Low Income Household Water Assistance Program
The Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP) was developed using federal funds to provide emergency assistance to low-income households to avoid disconnection or disconnection of drinking and wastewater services. can help to reconnect. This program provides a one-time payment directly to the utility company for eligible low-income households. The LIHWAP runs until September 2023 or until funds run out.
There are three priority groups that will be represented in the program:
Group 1: Households that have disconnected water services.
Group 2: Households at risk of disconnection of water services, unless action is taken to prevent disconnection.
Group 3: Households with existing water service bills and need assistance to maintain service.
Funding to Priority Group 3 will be available only after Priority Group 1 and 2 are served.
For more information, visit www.ncdhhs.gov/divisions/social-services/energy-assistance/low-income-household-water-assistance-program-lihwap
New Bern Connects Roundup Program
The New Bern Utilities Department offers customers a unique way to help the less fortunate. Customers can voluntarily sign up to have their utility bills matched to the next dollar with remaining funds in the Roundup program. This contribution goes to help New Bern resident utility customers who need help with their utility bills.
If the utility charge is $92.75, the bill will automatically increase to $93 and an additional 25 cents will be deposited into the New Bern Connects Roundup Fund. The average contribution per user is about 50 cents per month, or $6 per year.
For more information or to sign up, visit: newbernnc.gov
Extension of payment time
Although the City of New Bern does not provide lower rates for low-income households, it will allow customers to make reasonable short-term payment plans for past-due bills on an occasional basis.
If a New Bern resident customer is unable to pay a bill by the due date, the person on the account may visit the office to request an arrangement to pay the bill at a later date. Photo ID is required. If an arrangement has been authorized by a city representative, all past due payments must, as a general rule, be completed before the next bill due date. If the account holder is unable to visit the office, he can authorize someone else to handle the account.
The city also works with a number of public and private organizations that help customers pay their utility bills. For more information, contact a customer service representative at (252)639-2750.
Outside agencies that can help are:
• Craven County Department of Social Services, 2818 Neuse Blvd, New Bern, 252 639-4900
• Religious Community Services, 919 George Street, New Bern, 252-633-2767
• Retired/Disabled Veterans: Disabled American Veterans – Chapter 26, 468 Highway 70E, Havelock, 252-652-9166
• Catholic Charities, 502 Middle Street, New Bern, 252-638-2188
• Active Duty Military: Navy Marine Corps Relief Society Quick Assist Loans, www.nmcrs.org/QAL
• Salvation Army, 1402 Rhem Ave, New Bern, 252-637-2277
Reporter Todd Wetherington can be reached by email at [email protected] Please consider supporting local journalism by signing up for a digital subscription.