NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Warm weather has arrived and a local organization geared toward helping folks cope with high utilities bills say there's $500,000 up for grabs for those in need.
Just days away from 90 degree plus temperatures in Nashville, out of work mother Jennifer Ontiveros knows keeping up with expected high utilities bills will get tough this summer.
"When you're behind like we are, it helps a whole lot, especially when you don't know where next month's bill is coming from," said Ontiveros.
Ontiveros and Adrianne Noles have both turned to Metro Action Commission seeking help through its Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, LIHEAP.
"My light bill got really high, it was like $400. Thanks to them I was able to continue to cool the house and feed the children," said Noles as he explained her situation last year.
Right now LIHEAP has around $500,000 is still available from its 2011-2012 budget.
Lisa McCrady says that much money could help nearly two-thousand families in Davidson County.
She says, "that's kind of a new for us, because usually around this time, we have almost depleted all of the funds we have for this particular program year."
Aside from the mild weather in the mid-state, Metro Action Commission feels the new location at 800 2nd Avenue North is another reason folks haven't shown up to get the energy assistance. McCrady says normally they would see 100 to 200 applicants a day; right now that number is more like 50 to 75.
"We want families to come in now before it gets to the point where it is unmanageable and it causes some disturbance in some other areas of your home," said McCrady.
Applicants' utility bill does not have to be past due for approval. If a person qualifies, they can receive $200 to $600 towards their utility bill.
All payments are made directly towards the utility company and any extra money is credited to the applicant's account.
If chairs remain empty inside the Metro Action Commission office and the money isn't used, it could send the message that Davidson County doesn't need as much help from the federal government.
The support is help people like Ontiveros says is desperately needed.
She says, "It would be a joy, because that would be a big relief off of us right now."
It's advised to seek help from LIHEAP beforeyour utilities are shut off.