Deadline extended for help with utility bills in Missouri

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Although nearly all of the region’s utilities have imposed a moratorium on cutting off service during the coronavirus pandemic, for many struggling families, the bill will soon come due.

“The utility bills are racking up, and they’re going to have to pay them at some point, so better that they get their applications in now,” said John Rich, executive director for the Mid America Assistance Coalition.

Rich’s agency administers federal dollars for the LIHEAP (energy assistance) program in Jackson, Clay and Platte counties.

Normally, the deadline to apply for LIHEAP assistance is March 31. But in Missouri, that deadline has been extended until May 31.

Rich assumes a great many families that have never applied to the program will need to in the weeks ahead.

“There’s so many people that are out of work now that didn’t qualify for LIHEAP in the past, but may now qualify,” Rich said.

You can find an application for LIHEAP on the website for the Mid America Assistance Coalition.

In Kansas, the deadline for assistance from LIHEAP was not extended, it closed on March 31. But experts encourage people in Kansas to call 2-1-1, for resources like the United Way, which could arrange for utility assistance.

Gina Penzig with Evergy also encourages people to set up a payment plan now, instead of later.

“We encourage customers, if they are finding themselves struggling with their utility bills, to give us a call,” Penzig said. “We can help set up some payment plans to help them manage the challenges, right now.”

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