Applications are still being accepted from Statesboro residents for help with utility bills and a separate program of mortgage and rent assistance provided by the city government from its national Coronavirus Relief Fund award.
City Council established three local relief programs in October, budgeting $100,000 to the rent and mortgage assistance fund and $75,000 each to the utility assistance and small-business funds. So overall, $250,000 was set aside for these programs from the $1.7 million in federal CRF money the city of Statesboro received through the state government.
Utility bill help
Action Pact, the agency previously known as Concerted Services, is taking applications for the city-created grants for Statesboro utility customers struggling to pay water, sewer, natural gas and electric bills. The grants, up to $175 per applicant, are meant for people experiencing financial hardship because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Action Pact’s call center is open 8 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday at (912) 489-1604, with the exception of holidays. A link to call Action Pact is also provided by the city at www.statesboroga.gov/relief.
As of Wednesday, Action Pact had approved grants for 23 households, with amounts totaling almost $2,970, said Layne Phillips, public information officer for the city of Statesboro.
“The majority of applicants have needed assistance with electricity bills,” she wrote in an email. “Action Pact thinks we will see an increased need for natural gas bill assistance as the weather gets cooler.”
Within Statesboro, the city itself is the water, sewerage and natural gas provider. But the mayor and council also allowed the funding to be used to help Statesboro residents who have fallen behind on power company bills.
Action Pact is also handling applications for the unrelated, federally funded Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP, which is available to qualifying Bulloch County households and not limited to those in the city.
Rent & mortgage
Meanwhile, the United Way of Southeast Georgia continues to process applications for the city’s Rental and Mortgage Assistance Fund. An online application can be found through www.statesboroga.gov/relief.
This fund is meant to help Statesboro residents who have fallen behind on their rent or mortgage payments because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The maximum grant size is $3,000 per family.
After an initial influx of 129 applications, the city temporarily suspended the online application at the United Way’s request the week of Nov. 16. But this was done so that United Way personnel could catch up on the processing, and the application was restored Monday, with funds remaining.
“That application is back live on our website, so we’re still accepting applications,” Phillips said.
City Manager Charles Penny recently suggested that funds left from the $75,000 earmarked for utility bill assistance could eventually be reassigned to mortgage and rent relief if that is where an unmet need remains.
Business fund done
The only one of the programs with a fixed deadline for applications was the Small Business Fund, administered by the Business Innovation Group, or BIG, an arm of Georgia Southern University based at its Statesboro City Center downtown. The deadline was Nov. 13 for the grants in amounts up to $5,000.
BIG has selected 38 businesses out of a total of 67 applicants for these grants, and all $75,000 will be distributed to those 38 businesses, Phillips said. This indicates that the actual grants will average about $1,973 each.