US & Canada

Cleveland Hts. family part of growing number who need utility help

CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, Ohio — James Harris of Cleveland Heights and his 10 children lost their wife and mother Narleen Moore to cancer last November and then earlier this year the family also lost their gas and electric service after getting behind on their bill.

Harris said the tough post-pandemic economy also had him concerned he could lose the family home, leaving his children without heat and electricity for more than two months.

“Trust me all my children know, it’s rough boiling water,” Harris said. “So everybody was walking around with coats, hats blankets.”

“Even when we could use space heaters, I couldn’t sleep at night. I didn’t want somebody to kick the heater over where it could ignite because of furniture in the bedroom.”

Harris said his church, the New Community Bible Fellowship, the Salvation Army, and CHN Housing Partners stepped in to help. CHN Housing Partners quickly walked Harris through its utility assistance program, paying down his past due bills, putting Harris on a payment plan and restoring the family gas and electric service.

“CHN Housing Partners, they just cut to the chase, they found out what was going on and they came in,” Harris said. “They wiped it out and got us situated where we could live again. The assistance application process is east, it’s like signing your name. It’s just that simple, there’s nothing hard about it.”

Laurie Leverette, CHN Housing Partners Director of Utilities and Emergency Services, told News 5 a growing number of Northeast Ohio families are having a tough time keeping pace with their utility bills in this post-pandemic economy. Leverette said keeping up with utility bills is crucial in maintaining stable housing for thousands of local families.

“More folks are coming to us that never had to utilize community resources,” Leverette said. “They’re going to us for the first time ever, they’re now unemployed, underemployed. We cover lights, gas and water, and sewer programs. For example, a household of four would be eligible if the household was around $40,000.”

Cleveland Hts. family of 11 part of growing number who need utility assistance

Anthony Garcia

Laurie Leverette, CHN Housing Partners Director of Utilities and Emergency Services

“We want to ensure housing stability, and utilities are a big piece of that. You don’t want to be in a home where there is no heat, you don’t want to be in a home where the electricity is not on, where there is not a clean, safe water supply.”

Leverette told News 5 families dealing with a utility crisis who have been shut-off can call 216-350-8008 for an appointment. Those who are behind on payments, but still have service, can file paper applications at CHN offices or can fax or uploaded information on its web page.

All the information you need about multiple CHN Housing Partners utility assistance programs can be found here.




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