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The United Way of Bruce Grey has released their numbers for the first four months of the new reporting year for its Utility Assistance Program. The United Way switched to reporting on a July to June format to more accurately capture the impact of a single winter.

From July 1 to November 30 of this year, the United Way has provided almost $105,000 in support to over 355 people, as a result of 266 requests.

“The program used to slow down over the summer,” admited United Way Executive Director Francesca Dobbyn. “But the last two winters: one really long, the last really cold has impacted people’s ability to catch up on their utility bills in the summer.”

Households are only permitted to access each sub-fund once per calendar year, and many households are needing support within an eight month window, rather than the permitted 12 months.

Unrestricted funds are now being used to keep people connected to all forms of utility, whereas in the past there was sufficient funding to meet those needs within the restricted fund. Restricted funds are funds from the utility companies themselves only to be used for that utility company’s customers.

Additional funds paid:

Westario Power – 10 customers - $3,752.68 paid

Union Gas – 8 customers - $2,465.23

Hydro One – 15 customers - $6,677.95 paid

“These are the exceptions, families without any other resource who have exhausted other supports and without the United Way stepping in, would be disconnected from their utilities,” explained Dobbyn.

For the 2014-15 Utility Program the United Way provided $260,579 in support to 579 requests.

“While only four months into the new cycle, we’ve used 40% percent of what we used last year, when comparing year over year,” Dobbyn noted.

At this rate the United Way needs to raise an additional $55,000 on top of the $155,000 that would match what was distributed in 2014-15.