Wake County residents can apply for up to $500 in assistance for past due utility bills due to COVID-19

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Wake County residents who have fallen behind in utility payments due to the financial fallout from COVID-19 can apply for assistance through the WakeHELPS program.

WakeHELPS launched Aug. 3, allocating $5 million of the nearly $200 million Wake County received in CARES Act funding for utility assistance.

Households can receive a $500 maximum payout per qualifying household to help pay past due utility bills from March 1, 2020 or later. The fund would allow the county to help up to 10,000 residents in need of assistance.

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"It is for individuals who are past due on utility bills," said Janny Mealor, Wake County Human Services Program manager. "It can be electric, water, or natural gas, and they have to have been impacted negatively by COVID and meet the income guidelines."

In the first week of the program, more than 1,000 applications for assistance were submitted. "It was a large volume and a large number of telephone calls, faxes and emails, in addition to the applications that we've received," Mealor said.

As of August 11, payouts for processed applications are $14,952.61 for electric bills, $6,836.77 for water bills and $1,516.74 for natural gas.

To apply, you need to live in Wake County, demonstrate you've suffered financially from COVID-19, provide copies of the past due bills dated March 1 or later and also meet the 2020 U.S. Dept. of Hoursing and Urban Developments Low-Moderate income guidelines which are $39,540 for individuals and $56,460 for a family of four.

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WakeHELPS will run until funds run out or Oct. 31.
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