Senior Citizen Advocate Demands Help For Those Who Can’t Pay Utility Bills

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT)-- Walter Peavy is a man on a mission.  He is working to love and care for our senior citizens. Thursday night, he took his message to Huntsville City Council.

Walter works at Love 1000 WDJL radio station where he founded Love Ministries. Peavy says when seniors needs help with food or their utilities, he tries his best to take care of them. He has even helped people find homes.

Recently, Peavy raised thousands of dollars to help elderly people pay their utility bills by staying on top of the Love Ministries building until he reached his goal of $5,000. WHNT News 19 also Payed It Forward  recently to the organization.

Pavey spoke in front of the city council Thursday night asking for them to force Huntsville Utilities to stop charging people over the age of 62 a re-connection fee if their services are cut off for failure to pay.

“God gave me a vision several years ago of a ministry for senior citizens, because a lot of them fall through the cracks, they don’t have much aid, they don’t have much assistance,” said Walter. “Many have to make the decisions to either pay the rent, pay the medicine, pay for food, or pay for utilities. A lot of the people who are coming to us now are coming to us because their utilities are being shut off.”

Council member Will Culver thanked Pavey for his work to bring attention to the issue in the community. He suggested people in need seek out some of the various organizations already in place to support people having a difficult time paying utility bills. Along with several churches and other non-profit utility programs in Madison County is the one Huntsville Utility's created called Project Share.

Project Share is designed to help utility customers, 62 years of age or older, or customers who are certified as disabled or handicapped pay utility bills during the winter months.

According to information from the Huntsville Utilities website, participants must be on a low or fixed income which does not exceed the state household income eligibility guidelines as specified by the Alabama Department of Human Resources.

The program allows the community to make contributions by adding $1.00 or more each month, year round, when they pay their utility bill. Customers are provided the amount of their previous year’s contributions for tax purposes on their January and February bills. The Salvation Army screens potential recipients, determines eligibility and decides who will receive assistance.

During the winter months of January, February and March 2012, Project Share funds assisted 839 families in the payment of their utility bills. During the 2012 heating season, a total of $156,389.45 was awarded in helping these families with the gas and electric portions of their bills, an average of $186.40 per family.

Huntsville Utilities officials say since the beginning of the program in December 1988, 21,607 families have benefited from contributions totaling $3,364,003.57. One hundred percent of funds contributed to Project Share are used to assist the elderly and certified disabled with their utility bills.

Cooling assistance during the summer months is offered when funds are available.

For information about getting help Click here.

For more information about Love Ministries write to: Love Ministries, P.O. Box 3602, Huntsville, AL 35810.