Rent and utility assistance remain in high demand

June 30, 2020 | Fox34


FOX34 Lubbock

Rent is due tomorrow and as the pandemic proceeds, a lot of people are still struggling to pay bills.
"While we have a very low rate of folks living in poverty in our community compared to other cities, we have a huge portion in what we call ALICE," Amanda McAfee with Lubbock Area United Way explained.
ALICE stands for "asset limited income constrain employee" and it means that the parent or caregiver has a job, but they do not make enough to make ends meet.
"When you combine the folks that are living in that ALICE threshold with the folks that are living under the poverty line, that's about 45% of our community," McAfee added. 
And now the pandemic has caused many people to have lower wages or lose their jobs entirely.
"Our community partners have seen an increase in requests for help with both rental and utility assistance," McAfee said. "And we think that's going to be continuing."
The City of Lubbock estimated to have received 300 applications for rental assistance in the past few weeks, forcing it to remove the application from its website. 
The City of Lubbock's Director of Community Development, Karen Murfee, assured that the rent assistance applications will be back next week. 
"We just had a huge response of applications at this time so we are just pausing, we are not stopping," Murfee said.
Utility assistance applications are still available on The City of Lubbock's website at this time.
"We have multiple, multiple funding sources for utility assistance," Murfee said. "Right now they just have to prove they've been affected some way by COVID-19, so either reduction in income or loss of income."
It's uncertain how long the pandemic will last, but Murfee said there is plenty of resources and funding for COVID-19 relief.
"The funding is available until the end of this year, December 31st," Murfee said. "But we have ongoing funding that we will be reallocating for this need as we see fit."
McAfee recommended reaching out to The Salvation Army, Upbring Neighborhood House and Catholic Charities if you are in need of rent or utility assistance.
"There is a lot of help out there available in rent assistance," McAfee said. "But the question of is it enough, we'll have to wait and see as things continue."