Nonprofits say many in Lincoln are still struggling with rent and utility payments

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – The Salvation Army says the number of people asking for help paying rent and utilities has gone up this year.

It said many people are still struggling to make ends meet after the pandemic and inflation.

Maj. Mark Anderson said the Salvation Army of Lincoln has seen a 50% increase in requests for its services since last year.

“People are transitioning trying to get back into the workforce,” he said. “People are moving into our cities trying to find a place to stay.”

Anderson said housing costs like utilities can be a problem when budgeting your monthly expenses, but it’s still important that people have their needs met.

“For people who are on medical equipment, having their electricity on is a very important aspect,” he said. “People need gas during the winter, particularly to heat their homes, hot water to cook. I mean, there’s just a lot of reasons why we want to make sure utilities are in place,” he said.

The Salvation Army has worked with around 6,000 people so far this year, helping them not only with monthly bills but getting them food to eat.

Organizations like Community Action of Nebraska say when money gets tight, people will often fall behind on rent in favor of paying for other essentials.

Executive Director Tina Rockenbach said as the cost of groceries and gas goes up, it can be hard to focus on paying for something like utilities.

“Gotta have gas to go to work, need to have food to feed yourself and your family to be able to continue living,” she said. “At some point, something’s going to fall short. And then you factor in things that aren’t planned: a car breaks down, someone gets sick, someone goes to the emergency room.”

Rockenbach said despite people moving on from the pandemic, requests for assistance haven’t gone back down to normal.

The Salvation Army is working with Black Hills Energy to make sure anyone struggling can get help.

Community Affairs Manager Brandy Johnson said the Black Hills Cares program focuses on covering people’s monthly payments so they don’t fall behind.

She said Black Hills will match every dollar donated to the program.

Johnson said last year, the program helped over 1,400 families across Nebraska cover their utility payments.

“It’s really about keeping people in their homes, right, and it’s a real basic need,” she said. “Helping folks with rent and utilities assistance is one way we can take a little bit of pressure off.”

Categories: Lancaster, Money, News, Top Stories