“It’s a means of survival,” Community Action Connections sees more clients in need of financial assistance

PASCO, Wash. — As inflation soars, the cost of basic necessities has gone up, meaning covering utilities can be difficult for some Tri-Cities residents.

Community Action Connections in Pasco wants to help.

Recently, they started a new program to help Benton and Franklin Counties to help cover residential water and sewer bills.

“There’s finally a program, that for the first time can assist the low-income population with the water – it is meant to help you with the balance you owe at the time,” Dalia Ochoa, the Director of Energy and Emergent Services with CAC said.

That’s not the only help available, LIHEAP, also known as Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, is also accepting applications.

“Now a lot of the time individuals in the community will think it’s just for electricity. No, that is a misconception because that actually covers natural gas, oil, propane, wood, if your heat is included in your rent,” she listed.

You can start the application process online, and Dalia said from there, you’ll be given a date and time to meet with the professionals at Community Action Connections.

Dalia said for many of their clients, the help they offer is a lifeline. Especially for those with a set income.

“It’s a means of survival. These programs, these resources out there actually they count on them,” she said.

Dalia said they also want to reach more people beyond their usual clientele, to let others who may be facing tough times that help is available.

“With COVID, we actually experienced that we’ve started to see a lot more diversity in different types of what the norm of low income is, and from different financial aspects. There’s a little gap in the middle with individuals that, they didn’t even know what to do, they didn’t even know this assistance existed,” Dalia said.

She explained they’re getting more clients seeking help, who’ve never needed financial help before.

But Dalia said many times, they’re able to get people back on track, just through the assistance of getting a bill paid.

She said it’s the “thank yous” and success stories that keep her entire team going.

“For us we’re just doing our day-to-day job, because we love to do what we do. So, to know that they have that respect to come back and say thank you, what more can we ask for?”

You can see all the services provided by Community Action Connections, here.

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