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MIFA reports 1,000 applications for bill assistance, millions still available

The City of Memphis gave MIFA $3.5 million to help pay the bills of COVID-19 impacted people.

MEMPHIS, Tennessee — The City of Memphis allocated $3.5 million to MIFA to help pay the bills of people impacted by COVID-19 and millions are still available.

The money was provided after thousands of homes were scheduled to lose power because of overdue utility bills.

Between August 24 and September 24, MLGW disconnected 29,558 customers. As of Friday, all but less than 1,000 customers had their power restored.

MIFA Vice-President of Family Services Mary Hamlett said because of that, they know the need is far greater than what they've heard from.

Hamlett reports around 1,000 applications have been submitted for the $3.5 million available from CARES Act funding. That's less applications than they initially expected to have by now.

"We were hoping to be probably at 1,500-1,600 by this time," Hamlett said. 

Hamlett said the moratorium on evictions and payment plans may have slowed down the application process for some struggling families.

"If I have until December to address it, then I’ll put it off and deal with more pressing things but the deal is, it doesn’t go away," she said. "That’s what I’ve been trying to stress, get in, apply, get the money. It will at least lessen what you owe."

MLGW spokeswoman Gale Jones Carson reports around 21,000 customers have been put on one of the several payment plans. She said the majority signed up for extended plans which will allow more time for them to catch up.

“We have far more payment plans for our customers," she said. "We really, really work with our customers as long as our customers call us before they’re disconnected we will work with them.”

People who have signed up for those plans can still receive money from MIFA. MIFA will provide up to $800 for utility bills and/or rent/mortgage payments.

“The bills don’t go away and I know some people are struggling with all kinds of health issues, they have kids at home they’re trying to educate," Hamlett said. "We’ve got to keep the lights on. We’ve got to keep people housed.”

People can apply for MIFA assistance online here.

Applicants are required to include three documents in the application process: a copy of an ID, a utility bill or lease statement and proof that they were impacted by COVID-19 i.e. unemployment papers.

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