The Salvation Army is an international Christian organization dedicated to both evangelical and charitable work. If you're having a hard time paying your heat or energy bills, the Salvation Army may be able to help.
The Salvation Army operates many different programs and facilities, including rehabilitation centers, recreational centers, family stores and community centers. To get help with your utility bills, you'll need to contact the Salvation Army community center for your area.
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The Salvation Army in the United States is divided into four territories. You can reach the western headquarters in California at 562-436-7000, the southern headquarters in Georgia at 404-728-1300, the eastern headquarters in New York at 845-620-7200, or the central headquarters in Illinois at 847-294-2000. Another option is to contact the national headquarters in Virginia at 703-684-5500.
You can also find your local community center by entering your zip code on one of the Salvation Army's websites.
One on One Interview
When you get in touch with your local Salvation Army community center, it will schedule an appointment for you to meet with a caseworker. The caseworker will ask you questions about your situation to figure out why you are having trouble paying your utility bills. Depending on your circumstances, you may be eligible for utility assistance but you may also be eligible for other forms of help. Rather than just making a payment to keep your heat or electricity from being shut off, the Salvation Army will try to help you stabilize your overall financial situation so you don't run into the same problem again.
California's REACH Program
In some areas of the country, the Salvation Army partners with local utility companies to offer assistance. For example, residents of California may qualify for the Relief for Energy Assistance through Community Help program through Pacific Gas and Electric.
This program provides a credit of up to $300 on a past-due utility bill. Most utility customers can qualify for the REACH program no more than once per 18 months, but the company will sometimes make an exception for seniors and customers with terminal illnesses or physical challenges.
To qualify for the REACH program, your household income must be no higher than 200 percent of the Federal poverty line. For example, as of 2015 a family of four would qualify with an annual income of $47,700 or below. In addition, you must be able to demonstrate why you're having a hard time paying the bill. Most customers living in subsidized housing are not eligible for this program. The exceptions are seniors, permanently disabled people and people with terminal illnesses.
If you think you might qualify for the REACH program, you can contact the Salvation Army by calling 800-933-9677.
The Salvation Army offers other utility assistance programs in different areas of the country, and each program has its own requirements. For instance, the Salvation Army HeatShare program in Minnesota is available to anyone who needs help paying for heat but has been turned down for county assistance. You can find out more about this Minnesota-based program by calling 800-842-7279.
In Michigan, the Salvation Army partners with Consumers Energy to offer the PeopleCare program, and with Michigan Gas Utilities to offer Share the Warmth. To qualify for these programs, you must be either a senior, unemployed, underemployed or dealing with an unanticipated financial emergency or a disability.