Agencies help residents pay heating bills

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- The first day of spring is just a couple weeks away, but the temperature is still below freezing. Residents are struggling to keep up with the cost of heating their home and the moratorium on disconnections for non-payment is about to expire.

This winter's frigid weather is hanging on for just a bit longer.

That's making it hard for some families to keep up with their utility bills.

"We're starting to kind of see the onslaught," said Linda Jung-Zimmerman of Stone Soup Community.

She says she's trying to deal with the onslaught as best she can.

During the coldest part of the winter, most utilities enforce a moratorium on shutting off service for non-payment to protect people from freezing to death. 

But that protection is about to expire.

"I think the crunch will be now as the moratorium ends and people come forward who have not been working on paying their bills for that time," said Jung-Zimmerman.

The Salvation Army and Real Services are also seeing more people who need help, but what makes Stone Soup different is they require clients to match funds and take classes to learn how to budget.

"They are putting $50 at least on their bill every month and we are matching that with $50," said Jung-Zimmerman.

They want to get people to the point where they don't need the help.

In South Bend, one estimate puts the number of residents needing help at over 10,000. Click here if you would like to help.


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