In addition to tax returns, Caring Connection is being asked more frequently for help with electric bills. One government program for utility help is the Percentage of Income Payment Plan (PIPP). Although it has been modified, the original version based playment on the client's income with any overage put into an arrearage account to be paid later. Older, energy inefficient, but low-rent housing couple with low income small payments led to some extremely large arrearages. The newer iteration of the program allows the back bills to be paid off if the new payment is made in full and on time. Clients have to be reverified yearly, and any missed payments made up before reverificiation was allowed. If not reverified, the entire arrearage becomes due.
Caring Connection had a client come in about to be disconnected. She, her boyfriend, and two children live on her boyfriend's $733.00/mo. SSI. Since they have gas and electric service, each payment was $43.00, 6% of gross income. Their rent is $350.00, making the total $86.00 for utilities hard to come up with. She needed nearly $500 to reverify for the PIPP plan and get back on the $43/mo. payment. Since she lived in an old house her actual electric use was $498.00/mo. Working with another agency, Caring Connection was able to get her close enough to the needed $500 that she was able to borrow from relatives the balance needed to reverify--one day before it would have been too late and her $7,000+ (!) arrearage would become due and payable.