Organization works to help more Wiregrass residents in need of help with utility bills

Local News

COFFEE COUNTY, Ala. (WDHN) — A community organization is working to help Wiregrass residents pay their utilities.

The Southeast Alabama Community Action Partnership has one or two offices in Barbour, Coffee, Geneva, Henry, and Houston counties.

During a normal winter, the non-profit receives around 500 residents seeking assistance to pay their utility bills, but during the pandemic, folks have lost their jobs and more kids are at the house, causing demands to soar.

“We have seen a large increase in clients due to coronavirus cases and due to a lot of more additional expenses in households,” said Regena Adams, Coffee County S.E. Action coordinator.

The funds are made available by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The nearly $50 million allocation to the 19 community action agencies statewide is being added to the $13 million in grants awarded through the federal CARES act.

“The cares act program was designed to help, prepare and respond to the coronavirus,” said Sherina Agee, CARES Act coordinator for Coffee County energy assistance. “We know when we get a client it’s desperate for them.”

During a normal winter folks in coffee and surrounding wiregrass counties have difficulty paying a normal heating bill, but during the pandemic, that problem has only intensified.

“But in community action, we have seen an influx of individuals due to layoffs, virtual learning, due to the hardships of this virus that has gone around,” CEO Karinne Simmons said.

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