As I sit in the comfort of my home tonight with the lights on and water running, I can’t help but think of the countless families we have received calls from all week. These heartbreaking phone calls pour in, day to day, from moms and dads doing everything they can to maintain a roof over their children’s heads. Parents operating out of extreme fear and worry for the safety of their families. COVID-19 has affected so many people in this community and left these families either fearing the worst or experiencing the worst. But this last week is showing that the worst is yet to come. Nonprofits, government agencies, and businesses have come together to address this concern in the best way we can, but the tragic phone calls increase daily. My heart is breaking along with our entire team here at GLR.
Now, after both the state and local moratoriums have been lifted, consumers experiencing power shut offs are still liable to pay their outstanding balances.
On Thursday, March 26th, the State of Texas approved an order for a ban on disconnections of water and power service for Texans financially impacted by COVID-19, placing them on deferred payment plans. (Texas Tribune, Collier & Schwartz, 2020) The deferred payment plans mean that now, after both the state and local moratoriums have been lifted, consumers experiencing power shut offs are still liable to pay their outstanding balances. With nearly one million Texans still unemployed as of August and the job market looking grim, it is unclear where these households will find the funds to pay their current expenses in addition to outstanding bills. (DiFurio, Denton Record Chronicle 2020)
These recent shutoffs have left thousands of households in Denton County with no access to refrigeration, water, lighting, power, or heating. If you are one of these households, please view Serve Denton’s video instructions on how to temporarily regain utility and electricity services. If you are a family with minor children in need of immediate assistance, please apply for emergency assistance from Grace Like Rain here. Individuals in need of emergency assistance, please apply for assistance from our partner, Giving Hope, Inc here. For additional resources, visit United Way’s Utility Assistance page where you will find a list of other agencies participating in the United Way Covid Relief Fund. As we receive numerous calls and attempt to address this widespread emergency, Grace Like Rain is urging you to consider the urgency and magnitude of this need.
As government funding begins to deplete, these families’ homes and livelihoods remain at risk.
The effects of COVID 19 are new and unpredictable to all of us, and we haven’t seen the worst of them yet. According to data in a recent Denton Record Chronicle article, the Denton Municipal Electric, the DME, has seen an over 45% increase in monthly shut offs since 2019, excluding the months from April to July when no shutoffs occurred due to COVID disaster declarations. (Bryant 2020) As such disaster declarations are lifting, the deep seated effects of COVID 19 on poverty and joblessness levels remain. If not extended, the eviction moratorium that is currently helping thousands of families avoid homelessness as a result of the pandemic will also be lifted in December. As government funding begins to deplete, these families’ homes and livelihoods remain at risk. The abruptness and unprecedented magnitude of this crisis has brought Grace Like Rain back to our roots: community outreach. If you are able to give even a little at this moment, it will go a long way for these families in urgent need of assistance.
Sitting here tonight, I know that we have to do something! I admit that the overall picture is overwhelming to say the least. But, if we all just helped one family, one neighbor, one mom, one dad, then together, we could make a huge difference in the lives of so many. John 13:34-35 states to “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples if you love one another.” In uncertain times like these, community support and love for our neighbor is our best hope.
It is more important than ever for us to help our communities however we can. As the need continues to grow rapidly in our communities, Grace Like Rain needs your help to fill that need. Please stay on the lookout for resources, volunteer opportunities, and any information about how you can help.
To donate to Grace Like Rain and our current and incoming families, please go here.
For information on what you can do to help or our volunteer opportunities, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. To help get the word out to the Denton community, share, share, share this article and post. More importantly – please SHARE THIS VIDEO and LINK with any families whom you believe may be affected by this crisis!
~Michelle Conner, Founder and CEO of Grace Like Rain