Organizations That Help Pay Utility Bills in Cincinnati, Ohio

Unless you want to live off of the grid, a prospect that sounds exciting until actually executed, you will have to be dependent on public utilities, especially in a Midwestern city like Cincinnati, Ohio. Experiencing both the frigid temperatures of winter and the scorching heat of summer tends to burden the gas and electric infrastructures. Meanwhile, sewer systems and water delivery frameworks are in constant need of maintenance and improvement.

Someone has to pay for these things. Unfortunately, the incomes of some are strained by utility charges. The good news is that there are organizations that can help.

What Is United Way 2-1-1?

In 1887, clergy of various religious traditions came together to improve the quality of life in the city of Denver, Colorado. Pooling their collective influence, they raised almost $22,000 and distributed the proceeds to Denver's myriad health and welfare organizations. From this modest financial gift grew the United Way, an international charity uplifting local communities in over 40 countries.

From pre-school preparation to help with filing taxes to fighting human trafficking to assisting seniors with life navigation, United Way is hard at work helping to alleviate poverty and insecurity, as well as the fear that accompanies them.

To that end, United Way maintains the 2-1-1 hotline through Project CARE OUC. It is available by telephone and through online communication. 2-1-1 serves as an information clearinghouse, a broker between needy households and the philanthropic entities that can help. Through this arm, people can obtain health and medical care, shelter and housing, employment and training and protection against domestic abuse.

In addition, 2-1-1 can help families meet their utility bills. United Way electric bill assistance can take the form of direct financial help or of negotiation with the utility provider. It depends on which organization 2-1-1 puts to work.

Federal and State Assistance

The United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has, for the past 40 years, offered help through its Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). Not only are home energy bills addressed through this agency, but so are matters of electrical repairs and home weatherization. LIHEAP funds and services are disbursed by state, territorial and tribal governments.

As an agency that helps with utility bills, LIHEAP funds state offices of community affairs (or comparable entities) to make direct grants to very low-income recipients. Cincinnati residents can contact the Ohio Department of Development.

A counterpart within HHS is the Low Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP) for families struggling to keep the water flowing. Like LIHEAP, LIHWAP makes grants to states, territories and Native tribes that are distributed to households of limited means so that clean water can continue to be available. As a necessity for life and health, running water is a provision no one can do without. Cincinnati denizens can submit a request to the Jefferson County Communication Action Council for information on eligibility and how to apply.

Other Private Assistance Organizations

In the Cincinnati area, and throughout the Buckeye State, non-profit institutions stand ready to bring financial relief to distressed bill-payers. Catholic Charities of Southwestern Ohio has a long history of conveying such assistance. The Salvation Army of Greater Cincinnati does likewise. Individual churches, synagogues and other religious congregations routinely maintain funds with which to administer mercy to their own people and their communities.

As with most matters of seeking help when it is most needed, searchers do well to persist. As demonstrated above, there are many sources of timely financial relief in Cincinnati, Ohio.