Greenville residents owe over $5 million in past due utility bills, United Way provides relief


GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – The economic pressure caused by the pandemic has put a strain on the lives of many hardworking South Carolinians. The United Way of Greenville has stepped in to give the community a hand during these tough times.

“The economic impact on our families right now related to COVID-19 is so real,” Meghan Barp, CEO at the United Way Greenville, said.

This week, the United Way of Greenville County launched their “Keep the Lights On” initiative, aimed to ease the burden on the estimated 8,000 households in the Greenville area that are behind on their electric bills.

“We learned early on that some of our neighbors in Greenville County are significantly in arrears on their electric bill, water bill and gas bills so we wanted to do something about it,” Barp said.

The City of Greenville has allocated 1.2 million dollars of the 91 million dollars they received in CARES Act funding towards utility relief. County leaders hope to put a dent in the estimated 4 million dollars total that is owed to electric companies.

“We know that for gas bills, it’s about the same amount of households- about one million dollars in arrears. So we’re talking 5 million dollars and over that people really need,” Barp said.

Officials at the United Way say they are receiving around 500 calls per day from people in their own unique situations needing help with past due bills and it doesn’t take much to get the assistance they need.

“We’re helping a lot of hardworking Greenville County residents who, unfortunately due to COVID-19, have lost their jobs and they haven’t been able to pay their bills. That’s what we’re here for,” Barp said. “We’ll do a very simple verification of income, review their account to make sure we have the right information, and once we have that we confirm that with the actual utility company and we pay that directly on their behalf.”

Barp said the United Way is hoping Greenville County officials provide additional utility relief funds so they can continue to help people in need before their current funds are exhausted.

The United Way urges those who are falling behind to dial 2-1-1 to reach an agent for help with utility relief.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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