Tomorrow, New Hanover County officially kicks off a new water assistance program to help residents who can’t pay their water bills.
Donations brought in from the telethon will be distributed to local nonprofit agencies to help residents who can’t pay their water bills for reasons such as sudden illness, unemployment and unexpected personal crises.
County Spokesman Charles Smith says the telethon is the beginning of a larger initiative.
“After the kick-off event, we plan to come back together and determine what type of strategy or other initiatives, year-long, that will continue to solicit funds for the Help 2 Others program.”
Smith says households without water and sewer services can create a serious public health hazard.
While the county doesn’t have a goal for the telethon tomorrow, Smith says the county hopes to raise enough money to wipe the slate clean of all the unpaid bills and mark the beginning of a permanent water assistance program. Smith says while New Hanover does have emergency assistance funds set up for those in need, that money dries up quickly.
“As with years past, those funds have gradually depleted. We find our emergency assistance funds smaller today than they have been in years past. So, this is certainly an addition to that, and hopefully we’ll be able to make our emergency assistance funds through the Department of Social Services go a little bit further.”
The idea for the program started in January by Commissioner Rick Catlin who cited the issue as a major public health hazard.
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