Local utility assistance program struggles to help those struggling after blasts of warm fall weather

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“One of the hardest parts of our job is a situation like this, when for the next several weeks, we’re going to have to turn people away at the door,” explained Rodney Rambo with Crosslines Ministries of Joplin.

By this time of the year, we should be getting a break in our utility bills because the heat of summer is typically over by now. But, not this year. And, it’s causing real problems for Crosslines, which administers the Emergency Assistance Program.

That program helps provide rent or utility costs to those who can’t afford them.

“We have experienced a pretty hot fall, so people looking for relief from those utility bills and haven’t quite got it yet,” Rambo continued. “So that has been part of our issue as well as folks in our community, still a lot of folks searching for affordable housing and still struggling with that financially.”

Due to the record number of requests for that assistance, Crosslines can’t take on any new clients until the first of November. Many of those applying fall into the category of the working poor — people with one or more jobs but still can’t make ends meet.

“We need to be prepared and make sure we are adequately funding these programs so we can respond to our most vulnerable citizens,” said Duane Dreiling with United Way.

United Way dollars pay fund the program that Crosslines administers. That’s why Dreiling says the campaign for this year’s fund is so important to support.

“They’re also seeing changes in requirements for state and federal grants that maybe they once were eligible for, but are not eligible for as much, and so many of our agencies are experiencing the same situation of declining revenues,” Dreiling explained.

Rambo adds only a significant donation to the program can reverse the action they’ve had to take.

You can learn more about the program by visiting the local United Way’s website or by clicking here.

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