More New Yorkers unable to cope with rising heating costs
As the temperature dips, utility bills are on the rise, and more and more people are unable to pay their heating costs.
Let's say you're behind on your utilities bill. First of all, you're not alone - according to figures from the Public Service Commission, more than one million New York households were late on their bills this past November. Gas and electric cutoffs by utilities companies in 2014 were up fourteen percent from 2013.
David Irwin of AARP attributes this increase to high heating costs.
"Our bills in New York State are higher than they were this time last year, so higher utilities bills are not just in New Yorkers' imagination, but they're also rising at a rate 27 percent faster than the national average."
There are organizations that can help when these costs become overwhelming, but the process can be difficult to navigate. Websites with outdated information direct you to organizations with dead-end phone numbers.
That's where someone like Leanne Rorick at Elder Source comes in.
"Elder Source is an information and assistance program."
The organization acts as a middle man between people in need and the financial aid, grant programs, and other resources they might qualify for. Elder Source serves mostly people over 60, which includes a lot of people on fixed incomes who can't afford rising heating costs.
"We're seeing an uptick this year in the number of calls that we're receiving about emergency crisis, or the inability to pay energy and heating bills."
AARP and other groups are lobbying for an independent utility consumer advocate office to prevent rising costs.