Wake offers residents help with bills
Wake County leaders announce a new program to help residents, struggling with the impacts of the coronavirus, with utility bills.
and stress of the virus are very, really see it in so many ways. Physically, mentally on economically in May, you may remember, is sharing the unemployment rate, but accounting was 11.5% and that's a significant number. But I think it's it's more important when we think about the people behind those numbers. Behind that number are thousands of people who are now jobless or who have experienced significant cutbacks to their hours. Okay, because of Copan 19 and his result, many of them can afford to pay their utility bills. In the city of Raleigh, for example, roughly 10,000 customers over $125 arm or on their water bills and Duke Energy says that close to 13,000 customers are a total of about $5.1 million players in unpaid power bills since the coronavirus out the outbreak began back in March. So we have a few PowerPoint slides to you have illustrates thing this morning crowd on behalf of the book commissioners and they kind of government to announce the launch of a new program called Wake Helps. And just as the name implies, its goal is to help Wake County residents pay their delinquent utility bills, so the financial burden their bearing due to Kobe 19. It's a little later. As a board, we've committed $5 million in Federal Cares acts funding to this effort. Eso Each qualifying household can receive up to $500 to pay off. They're overdue utility bills $500. That means, by doing the math, will be able to help at least 10,000 households in Wake County. That's not insignificant number, so we know that this program couldn't have come at a better time. Just a few days ago. Is many of us knew the protections at the state of play to keep customers utility services on In effect, even if they were late on, their bills went away. Now Wake County residents know they have a safety net in, which helps to keep their lights on and their water running just basic necessities of life. So why is this important? Well, of course, maintaining utility services critical now more than ever coming 19 has heightened the need for regular hand washing and increased cleaning certainly on you can't do these things if your water has been turned off We're also in the midst of a summertime heat wave right here in Piedmont of North Carolina. Typical for this time of year on almost daily. Uh, many of you feel like me have signed up for these alerts. I get alerts on my phone warning me about the triple digit heat index just about every day. So nobody should have to go without air conditioning when the temperatures are that hot, because the effects could be dangerous and, as we know, also even deadly. So what is Wake helps again. And how does it work? So is we see in Wake Helps is kind of like a life raft for those trying to keep their heads above water financially during these troubled times. That's why we've made it easy to apply for assistance. So to qualify, there are four criteria. First, you have the Wake County resident. Secondly, you have to fall in a low to moderate income category, and we have those clearly defined, um, third, you have to be impacted financially by Kobe 19 and fourth and finally have to show proof that you're behind on your utility bills. The copies of bills you provide can be dated back as far as March, the first when the coroner virus outbreak first started. We had 1/4 case here in Lake County back on March 30. Remember on and we'll accept applications through October or until the funding runs out. So the utility services eligible for assistance underweight helps include electricity and water, natural gas, waste water and saw the waste so each household again can request relief for any or all of those services up to $500. So how do you apply? Well, if Wake helps? Seems like something you could benefit from. We encourage all residents in Wake County. Teoh plot application process starts by filling out a form which you can access in several ways. Earth. You can visit our Web page weight of dot com slash week helps to access it or you call a phone number. We have dedicated for this program to make sure I have this number right. It is 919212 0476 and 919 She won 20476 Or you can pick up one of our in person, uh, templates at our Swinburne facility and Raleigh or the Eastern Regional Center in Nebula. Again, we will accept one application her household at this time and for those who qualify, the county will pay the utility companies directly the money they're owed again, up to $500. We will not be sending money directly to residents. We believe this process is the most efficient and effective way to help alleviate the stress that some residents feel each month when they get their utility bills and must choose between paying them. We're putting food on the table for their families, so those are the basics. That's the information. Generally, we know you have questions, and so we want toe transition to a Q and A period. Um, so as we know Wake helps is going to make a tangible difference for a lot of people in our community. Um, I certainly look forward to working with our local partners as I do as I know the rest of the board of commissioners does, um, working with you, especially the media watching us right now to help raise awareness about it so we can start helping are our neighbors and need on, I'm sure, reporters immediate folks, that are joining us this morning. Have some questions I'd like to ask, uh to help after them. I'd like Teoh welcome some of the experts from Wake County that are with us today. I'd like to welcome Wake County Manager David Indelible. It this chief financial officer, Emily Lucas, even services director program manager. Excuse me, Jenny Miller and communications director there d my to join make morning, everyone and there. Would you mind sharing our first question with this? Sure. So that this time, if any of our media friends have a question that they would like to ask, you just need to click on the button that looks like a bubble on your screen that will take you to the chat area when you get to the chancery and there's a space at the bottom or you can type in a message works similarly to a instant messaging program, and then that question will pop up on the screen, and then I will read it out to our panel. So while you all are doing that, I'll put for the question that we have been asked by some of the people that we've talked to. This talked about this program with and in Janey, I think you're the best person slated to answer. That is, we do have other assistance programs related to energy and cooling in the summer time. Will people be able to apply for those programs as well as wake helps? Or is it just one in a league one? Yes, they are actually able to apply for more than one program, and we will work with them to put those benefits together to maximize the resources that are available to them. And so our crisis program does help with the cooling cost, and we can work with the money from that program. Along with the weights. Well helps money Teoh hopefully be able to resolve some of the larger bounces that individuals have. Great, they keep Danny. And another question. I think it is probably a good one. What type of turnaround time once people apply for the funding, should they expect to receive notice if they're eligible for it? And then how will they know when that payment has been made to the utility provider? What once our applications process, they will receive a letter that will let them know they've been approved or denied in how much will be applied towards their account. It can take up to 30 days for the money to be applied to their account. But it depends on which vendor in payment source that we use. And if we have questions, will contact them. Aziz. Well, to get additional information, and it'll depend on Volume two, how quickly will get to each application. Okay, great. Amanda Johnson from the in and now has a couple of questions only to take them one at a time. The 1st 1 is what are the low to moderate income parameters? I e is it am I or household either Emily or Janney? Would you like to take that question? Okay, yes. The low to moderate income limits are based on, um, the herd guidelines, and, um, they we have the race, you know, going in a quick. I think the amounts for a family, uh, one. The amount is all right. Okay. 39,540 for a household. And that's annual income for a family of four would be 56,460 and, um, and then it goes up for whatever their family size. We just calculate out there and home and determine if they're eligible based on this. Thank you, Janey. And I think it's important to know, too, that we do have that is one of the students and a terrific cute. So if people are interested in the full chart, you're welcome to go to our website. Week of dot com slash wake helps and go to the FAA queues at the bottom of that page and you'll see a chart that shows what Jenny was just talking out. The second question for man is our any local governments in Wake County judge adding money to this fund or any local businesses there. I can take that question, and not at this time we're only using the Federal Cares Act funding or the what we call the Corona virus relief funds that the county received directly, which does allow us to use this money to provide emergency utility support services from those impacted by comfort. 19. Thank you. And then her third and final question is, Is weight county considering any property tax relief especially given revaluation? Yes, and I can take that question as well. We're currently not one of the specific guidelines in the care Zach guidance is that you cannot use these funds to replace property tax revenues or lost property tax revenues, which is one of the stipulations that we can't use this for that purpose. So even though that might be a program that would seemingly help our residents, the federal government has said that we cannot use the money for that. Great. Thank you, Emily. Well, those are all the questions that we received in the chat. So I will turn things back over to you, Mr Chairman. Thank you, Dera. And thank you, everyone, for your questions. We certainly appreciate the media partnering with us to educate the community about weight helps and assistance it can offer, thanks to those of you for joining us on the livestream now on. Certainly for those of you in the future who may be watching this as it's being recorded and will be later posted online, we hope that you will join us in helping to spread the word about. Wake helps to bond again on behalf of weight kind of government were very excited and pleased to be able to offer a residence this this program really appreciate your time this morning. So until next time, stay, stay fit and healthy And have a great day everyone.