NECAC could see money trouble

Time and money are running out for northeast Missouri residents who need utility assistance.

Employees at the North East Community Action Corporation say they're close to using up more than 300 thousand dollars from the federal Energy Crisis Intervention Program.

The summer utility assistance money was supposed to last through September, but the agency expects it will run out by Friday because of the high demand.

Melissa Williams is the Marion County NECAC coordinator. She says hundreds of people have been asking for help every day, seeking $20 to 40 thousand a day to keep electricity on at homes in NECAC's 12-county area.

The program pays up to $300 per household for overdue utility bills.

She says there are many reasons the need is greater than ever. She says the down economy and high unemployment rate is contributing to the problem.

It started the season June 1 with $313,000 in the Energy Crisis Intervention Program. The money was supposed to last through September.

NECAC plans to seek additional dollars, but agency spokeswoman Janice Robinson says relief is unlikely.

NECAC has been distributing the federal funding at a rate of $20,000 to $40,000 a day. The program pays up to $300 per household for overdue utility bills.

Though the utility assistance is running low, NECAC is offering help with folks struggling to make their mortgage payments. The Emergency Homeowners TM Loan Program will pay part of mortgages for up to 24 straight months or 50 thousand dollars.

To qualify, you must have had a reduction in income during the last year, be at least 90 days late on your mortgage payment as of June 1 and have an annual income of less than 75 thousand dollars. Other qualifications apply and you cannot be receiving Social Security.

Loans will be made to qualifying applicants chosen by the federal government.

Forty-five million dollars is being spent in 28 states. Iowa is participating in the program, but Illinois is not.

In Northeast Missouri, NECAC is taking pre-applications through July 22. Call one of their county service centers or 1-800-748-7636 for information.