Trident United Way tracks jump in calls for utility bill help

Updated: Jun. 29, 2020 at 7:22 AM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Trident United Way says daily utility service assistance calls in the first two weeks of June shot up 300% from the same time in May.

When the Coronavirus pandemic first began, Gov. Henry McMaster ordered that all utility companies not shut off people’s utility service, but that was lifted May 15.

Now, Trident United Way says the three months of bills have piled up on people.

Vice President of Community Impact Amanda Lawrence says calls continue to increase from people asking for utility assistance. She says these come from people with multiple different providers across the Tri-County area.

“There is no slow down at this time, and with our cases increasing, that also effects people’s ability to work, and so we don’t expect a slowdown at this time,” Lawrence said.

Lawrence says generally when people call they need assistance with multiple needs, like utilities and food. She says Trident United Way is usually able to help them with at least one of those.

Trident United Way is funded through the help of philanthropists, foundations, corporate partners, and community donations.

“People have really stepped up and really given and really supported one another in their communities, in philanthropy, and in a number of different ways,” Lawrence said. “And we just have to continue doing that and with that, we can get through this crisis and we can continue to address the needs of our Tri-County residents.”

Trident United Way also has resource connection centers, which help people who weren't able to file their taxes get their refunds. These centers also help people get back on track if they're behind on bills.

Trident United Way estimates $405 million in income has likely been lost in the Tri-County area. This is just from four major industries they looked at: construction, manufacturing, tourism and forestry.

Trident United Way says if unemployment levels stay where they are, they could see a cumulative loss of over 10,000 full and part time jobs over the course of the year.

Lawrence says the first option to get help is by calling 211. The public will be referred to someone who can help based on individual needs and location.

This 211 phone number also has an option that provides employment opportunities info.

Help can also be found here, on their website.

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