With nonprofits running low on aid, local families worry about utility bills after deep freeze

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — We might be out of the deep freeze now, but many fear the sticker shock that could be coming in this month’s heating bills. It couldn’t come at a worse time when many families are still scraping by during the pandemic.  

Money is running low to help those struggling with rent and utilities. Couple that with higher bills from the cold blast, along with shutoff and eviction moratoriums set to expire soon, and many families could be in trouble.

Heather Landis is still reeling from a massive fire at Waldo Heights Apartments that upended her life.

“I’ve never had everything I ever owned taken from me,” she said.

It was another devastating blow in an already tough year. Landis is recovering from a debilitating car crash and needed to leave her job because of health conditions that put her at high-risk for COVID-19. Donations helped right after the fire, but getting by ever since has been a struggle.

“We’ve been trying everything we can. Door Dashing as we can. Any little thing to make money,” Landis said.

This month, she called United Way 211, which pointed her to several organizations for help with her bills.

“They were all like, ‘We don’t have any funds. We’re strapped with COVID and other people needing assistance,'” Landis said.

Blaine Proctor, CEO of Save, Inc. Kansas City, said since the pandemic started, his organization has seen requests for aid explode from about 10 calls a week to more than 50 a day.

“People are desperate. They don’t want to lose their homes,” Proctor said.

Thanks to the CARES Act, the nonprofit still has some funds to help people like Landis, but Proctor fears the next few weeks could wipe out what’s left.

“We really think once that moratorium is lifted, we’re going to be slaughtered. We’re just going to be inundated with requests,” Proctor said.

Proctor and Landis are just hoping new aid from Congress comes through soon. Without it, consequences could be dire.

“Our fear is there’s going to be a lot of folks that fall through the cracks,” Proctor said.

“Every little bit helps because there are people like me that we don’t have anything or resources to get anything, and it does help when we get it,” Landis said.

If you’re in a position to help, you can donate directly to Landis here.

Save, Inc. of Kansas City accepts donations online here. You can also contribute cash donations, clothing and personal care items. 

A list of organizations granted CARES Act funding in Kansas City for rent and utility assistance can be found here.

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