Out of money in the dead of winter

North East Community Action Corporation

(NECAC) officially ran out of money Tuesday.

So how can they continue to help their applicants financially this winter?

KHQA's Kristen Aguirre spoke with NECAC employees and applicants to see how there getting through this financial crisis.

"I can't be out in the cold, I'm already anemic and it's as hard as it is," said Princeton Brown, a NECAC applicant.

Brown is about to have his heat turned off.

He's been using NECAC's energy assistance program to help pay his utility bills since he lost his job.

But this month NECAC needs the assistance.

"Well we've ran out of funds about Tuesday so a lot of people are calling in wanting help paying their utility bills," said Melissa Williams, Marion County Services Coordinator.

"So as soon as we get funds in we can give them a call."

NECAC was recently granted more federal funding for their programs.

The money should arrive within weeks....but that may not be soon enough.

"Yeah that makes me very nervous it's so cold outside and around this time of year it's not good to have your heat turned off or anything," said Brown.

"It's a hard decision," said Williams.

"I wouldn't want to be the board right now to decide who get their lights turned off. Do you turn them off do you not," she said.

General Manager of the Hannibal Board of Works that deal with the cities utilities is Robert Stevenson.

"It's hard not to come across harshly but we are not authorized to offer up financial assistance to any individual ever, period," said Stevenson.

While financial assistance in prohibited by the board of works, they've worked out something else for their customers facing utility shut down.

"Part of our disconnection policy was designed in such a way to maximize the time that any customer could go to an agency like NECAC to get help," said Stevenson.

But NECAC now needs that help and their applicants are left waiting.

"Whenever we get the funds in we'll start spending them," said Williams.

"But I mean it could be, we're hoping next week but it could be two to three weeks down the road we just don't know."

Since the energy assistance program started in October, the Marion county division alone has helped over one thousand families with their utility bills.

Once the NECAC headquarters gets confirmation that the funds are received they can then be disbursed to divisions like Marion County.