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Nonprofit helping clients pay their utility bill amid winter spike

Knock and Drop Iowa is using a grant to help pay down or off some clients' utility bills, which have become too much for them to afford.

DES MOINES, Iowa — One nonprofit is working to help the clients they serve to keep their utilities on past this winter. 

Zuli Garcia, the founding president of the nonprofit Knock and Drop Iowa, said some of the client's heating bills are past due.

They are working to prevent utility companies from cutting off electricity after April 1, which is when the moratorium ends on Iowa utility companies not being able to disconnect power on people who haven't paid their bills.

The organization is starting a mini utility Assistance Program, funded by a grant from Hispanic Heritage. 

"We had a list of 75 families," Garcia said.  

That's a list of 75 people Garcia said need help paying their MidAmerican Energy bill.

"The lady her bill has been close to $500 for the month of December and the month of January, because we've had some really hard cold nights."

Some clients can't afford to pay because it's hundreds more than she is used to. Now, that one client owes $767.

Knock and Drop Iowa serves mostly Hispanic and Latino families. Garcia said many of those who are behind on their utility bill are afraid or uncomfortable reaching out to other organizations for help. 

"[Hispanic Federation] were able to grant us $25,000 and we're going to try and make it stretch as much as we can to 50 or more, to try to cover the 75 or more families," Garcia said.

The nonprofit plans to pay as much of the bill off for the families, so after the first of April, their electricity won't be cut off. 

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"We need to think that some of them may not have the security that others do," Garcia said.

Additionally, the IMPACT Community Action Partnership is working on a program to help families sign up for utility assistance through Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).

IMPACT Community Action Partnership CEO Anne Bacon said last year at this time, they had taken 10,627 LIHEAP applications. This year during the same timeframe, they have taken 12,269 applications 

"IMPACT exists to remove barriers and burdens that people in poverty are facing," Bacon said. "And so it always creates anxiety when we know so many people are in need."

Garcia adds she wanted to help more people in need on her list of families and is looking for partnerships with other programs, grants or donations from the community, to make that a reality.

  • If you want to donate to Knock and Drop Iowa, you can do so here
  • If you want help from IMPACT for utility assistance, click here

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Watch: What are Iowa utility companies saying about the drastic spike in heating bills?