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Boone County considers CARES Act money for utility help

COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)

Boone County is considering dedicating half a million dollars from CARES Act funding to help people struggling with utility payments.

The $500,000 contract between the Boone County Commission and Central Missouri Community Action will provide a utility assistance program that will be handled through CMCA, if the commission approves it. 

Boone County Southern District Commissioner Fred Parry said CMCA will screen all applicants. 

“It kind of takes it out the county’s hands for the most part,” Parry said.

He said the money will go to applicants with a household income that is at or below 200% of the federal poverty level. The federal poverty level is $26,200 for a family of four. Applicants would also have to be a utility customer in Boone County with missed payments no earlier than March 1 and have the utility bill in the applicant’s name. 

“They have social security numbers and proof of life for all household members, proof of household income from the prior month, the utility bills and notices and affirmation that the house has been impacted by COVID-19,” Parry said of successful applicants.

Parry said because of the criteria he has confidence that the people who could receive assistance are those in desperate need and not trying to take advantage of the program. 

He said the county commission became aware of the fact that the city of Columbia had over 5,000 customers pending disconnections and conversation between the county and CMCA began last week. 

“County staff through the Office of Emergency Management and the county counselor worked through the weekend to draft an agreement between the county and Central Missouri Community Action to be able to step in rather quickly and help address some of the needs of the folks who were unable to pay their utility bills,” Parry said.

The second reading for the proposed utility assistance program will be on Thursday. 

“Once it is approved,” Parry said, “Central Missouri Community Action will begin the application process. They will train their employees and start receiving applications from people who need utility assistance at this point.”

Riane Cleveland

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