YORK, YORK COUNTY—It's been a hot summer with several heat waves. During one of them, the extreme heat caused the deaths of two York County residents. One person died from Hyperthermia and another was found dead inside a room that was 110 degrees.
York County's Community Progress Council has a program in place to make sure people who are struggling financially will be able to keep cool and safe this summer.
"If they have a big balance which can occur say if they're on a fixed income or something like that or they lose a job or go from full-time to part-time," said Judy Santiago, Community Center Director, York Community Progress Council. "Unfortunately sometimes they have to let the bill go."
When people reach this point, the agency steps in.
"I've had people with $2000.00 dollar balances, $1000.00 dollar balances," said Santiago. "They come in frantic like 'what am I to do, what am I to do?'"
Santiago told Fox 43 people who live in York County, are First Energy customers, and meet an income and usage requirement are eligible for the Pennsylvania Customer Assistance Program. The person's outstanding balance will be deferred and each month a set amount will be deducted from his or her new monthly bill. Every time a payment is made in full, money is put toward the customers beginning balance.
"It's an empowering feeling," said Catherine Palmisano. "They're empowered because a bill is getting paid and through their empowerment you become empowered because you realize that you are here for a service."
There are a few stipulations. People on the program must recertify ever year and a balance can only be deferred once.
"Some people tend to unfortunately forget that and sometimes in some cases we're unable to help because that's the only money that's available at this time," said Santiago.
In the past, the agency has helped up to 400 people in a one month time period. If you would like more information on the assistance program visit www.yorkcpc.org.