MIDDLETOWN — As we reach almost one year since COVID struck the United States, many continue to endure the financial burden that comes with it. Households already struggling to make ends meet have had their financial situation all too often go from bad to worse. Fortunately for many, one of Middlesex United Way’s corporate sponsors, Eversource, has recognized the burden and finding new ways to help out.
Eversource is now offering customers struggling with paying their electric or heating bill programs to protect against shutoff. For qualifying gas or electric customers, service cannot be turned off between Nov. 1 and May 1. Their matching payment program will help customers reduce their past due balance with affordable monthly payments.
Once enrolled, Eversource will match your payments, plus the amount of energy assistance you receive on your account, down to a zero balance. For customers who receive public assistance benefits, your payments can be reduced to as low as $50. These charge no interest, require no down payment, and all customers qualify at least once for one or more of these plans.
The matching payment program allows you to maintain electric or gas heating service year-round and reduce your past-due Eversource account balance. The utility company will match your payment plus the amount of energy assistance you receive on your account. The MPP has two phases — allowing you to receive two separate matching payments on your account.
The first step to receiving your matching payments is to qualify by calling 800-286-2828 or visiting 211ct.org to find your local community action agency and applying for energy assistance. Qualifying customers will then receive energy assistance by May 1. People can enroll in Eversource’s program starting Nov. 1.
The “New Start” program for electric customers will help eliminate outstanding balance in as little as 12 months. Eversource will help establish a monthly budget payment for you based on your usage. By making your New Start monthly payment, a portion of your past-due balance will be eliminated or “forgiven,” reducing the amount you owe each month.
To be eligible for income-based assistance programs, your household income must be at or below 60 percent of the State Median Income. To find out if you are eligible, please contact Eversource at 800-286-2828.
These programs will directly help Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed residents in Connecticut, a target population of need for Middlesex United Way. ALICE residents are those with earnings above the Federal Poverty Level but below a basic cost of a living threshold, and most have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19. The pandemic has highlighted ALICE’s vulnerability to hardship from both illness and economic stressors.
In Connecticut, 27 percent of households are ALICE. Despite working hard, these households live paycheck to paycheck, and frequently are unable to afford life’s most basic necessities, such as housing, food, child care, transportation, technology, and health care. When combined with those households living below the Federal Poverty Line (11 percent of households), at least 38 percent of Connecticut households (513,727) struggle to make ends meet.
Eversource is a Middlesex United Way corporate sponsor, and we are proud of the work they do to ensure their customers are assisted in these difficult times. Last year, to support nonprofits’ critical social services, Eversource donated more than $2 million through the Eversource Foundation to COVID-19 response efforts, including the Connecticut United Ways COVID-19 Response Fund.
Over 5,000 people received direct financial assistance for food, housing and other essentials through the fund. To learn more about our corporate sponsorship program, please contact Manny Martinez at email@example.com.
Kevin Wilhelm is president and CEO of the Middletown-based Middlesex United Way.