Home heating help available

Posted at 8:32 AM, Jan 07, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-07 09:56:35-05

For the first time in a year, Tabitha Dillay has paid for all her bills on time.

"It's a struggle when, when you have to decide you know do you feed your kids a hot meal or sandwiches verses making sure the lights stay on," said Dillay.

So the single mother of four applied for the Consumers Energy CARE Program through United Way last year.

"Going to school full time, working full time, still not making enough to necessarily make sure all the bills are paid and make sure the kids have the extra things they need," said Dillay.

The program provides heating assistance to families that make up 150 percent of the Federal poverty level.

"People pay their mortgage. they pay to feed their children cause they're hungry, when you get that consumers bill, if you don't have enough money, that often goes in a drawer and gets set aside," said United Way of Jackson County President and CEO Ken Toll.

The company covers a portion of the utility bill every month, paying 50 percent over the winter.

By the end of the program, homeowners that keep up with their payments will also have the past due bills paid for.

"The idea here is to get people on the path to self sufficiency," said Brian Wheeler with Consumers Energy. "So they don't have to deal with these problems time again."

"I'm very thankful," said Brittany Hammond who also applied for the program. "You have no idea how thankful I am."

She says since enrolling, she's been able to keep food on the table and a roof over her head.

"My husband had a job change and income cut. we lost our car. If I hadn't enrolled in the care program," said Hammond. "I'd probably be homeless right now because I wouldn't be able to keep everything."

That's why she hopes more people will take advantage of the assistance available.