SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — A Springfield, Missouri, family is left in the dark after being hit with a $5,000 utility bill.

Elizabeth Nelms said after missing a payment, the late fees tacked on were more than her actual utility bill.

“I realized, ‘Hey, we’re really high, we need to get this down.’ And then we got a disconnect in the mail,” Nelms said, “And when I tried to call them to work something out, they wouldn’t work everything out with me because I was late one time.”

Jeff Scott with Greene County said Nelms could have qualified for the emergency rental assistance program if it were still being funded.

“This program was always designed to be a temporary measure to take care of those families that were working paycheck to paycheck until they could get re-established,” Scott said.

The rental assistance program was established during the pandemic to help aid those who might have missed a rent or utility payment.

Nelms stays at home on disability while her husband works. She said each month, those charges began to add up.

“I’d pay my bill and that just would transfer over to the next,” Nelms said. “So it was just making the bill higher and higher. So I never could stay caught up, and I never could understand why.”

Now, Nelms is seeking help from organizations in the community.

“I don’t like to feel helpless or ask people for money or anything or help,” Nelms said, “I’m just not that kind of person.”