24
   

My neighbor is on a fixed income

 
 
jcboy
 
Reply Sat 3 Mar, 2012 08:33 pm
One of the first people I met when I moved here was Gilbert; he’s now 72 years old. He owns the house next door, the corner house. He’s lived there for 30 years.

He told me he was on a fixed income when we first met but he seemed to manage because he owned his home with no mortgage and only paid insurance and property taxes. I noticed the last couple of evenings his house was kind of dark, no lights on.

When I was out front today doing gardening my neighbor across the street came over to see what I was planting. She told me the power company cut off Gilberts electricity because he was behind on his bill. I never noticed before but she said it happens every now and then when he gets behind.

I was very sad to hear that, he and I talk all the time and he never mentioned that to me. Maybe he’s too proud. I was thinking of a way of helping him out without him knowing but I’m not sure how to do it. He is really a nice gentleman.
  • Topic Stats
  • Top Replies
  • Link to this Topic
Type: Discussion • Score: 24 • Views: 4,121 • Replies: 72

 
CalamityJane
 
  3  
Reply Sat 3 Mar, 2012 08:40 pm
@jcboy,
You're a good person, jcboy!
If you want to help him, go to your local utility department and pay the
bill for him. If you give the address and name, they should be able to help
you. If it isn't too much, maybe pay for the next 3 months, so he has time
to get back on his feet. Tell the utility company not to say anything, so
he won't know who his "guardian angel" is.
jcboy
 
  2  
Reply Sat 3 Mar, 2012 08:51 pm
@CalamityJane,
I was thinking of doing that but I was afraid he would find out and get upset. We have become good friends and he always said he was happy I moved in next door, I wish he would have told me but I guess he’s embarrassed. I will do that tomorrow!

Here your electric bill is probably the biggest monthly expense you have. Not so much this time of the year but during the hot months it can run about 250.00 a month using the air conditioning all day.

He has a pretty big house on two lots but I remember him telling me he only lives in the back of the house.
EqualityFLSTPete
 
  2  
Reply Sat 3 Mar, 2012 09:04 pm
@CalamityJane,
I've always said Morgan was the biggest bitch you'd ever meet but he has a big heart!
0 Replies
 
Butrflynet
 
  1  
Reply Sat 3 Mar, 2012 09:12 pm
@jcboy,
Do the utilities in Florida allow you to average your yearly bills and just pay the average every month throughout the year? That can be a big help when there are large swings in seasonal high and low energy use.

Some utilities also allow an alert to be given to another person when a customer's power is about to be shut off.

Maybe you can get info on those things and slip them anonymously into his mailbox.
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Sat 3 Mar, 2012 09:14 pm
@jcboy,
There also so are probably forms to fill out for seniors with low income to qualify for reduced utility rates..
0 Replies
 
jcboy
 
  2  
Reply Sat 3 Mar, 2012 09:20 pm
@Butrflynet,
Thanks! I’m not sure about that but I will find out. I remember seeing something on the bill about an average but I never paid any attention to it.

I don't think Gilbert has any family here, at least I haven't met them, he’s originally from Columbia. The only relative I met was his nephew once last summer when he and his wife were visiting so I’m not sure who the utility company would notify.
0 Replies
 
Butrflynet
 
  1  
Reply Sat 3 Mar, 2012 09:33 pm
If your electric company is Progress Energy, here's their webpage on customer assistance programs:

https://www.progress-energy.com/florida/home/billing-payments/assistance.page?

And here's some info that may be of help for your neighbor:

Quote:
Energy Neighbor Fund

Progress Energy’s Energy Neighbor fund is an energy-assistance program for our customers. This program provides assistance to customers who are experiencing temporary financial difficulties, such as sudden illness, unexpected unemployment, or an emergency or personal crisis. Energy Neighbor Fund contributions come from Progress Energy’s employees, customers, and the Progress Energy Foundation.

With the help of several social service agencies who distribute the funds collected, 100 percent of the money donated to the fund goes directly to helping keep the lights on. The money stays in the communities in which it is collected.

To donate click here

To request help from the fund click here


Quote:
Bill Extender

This program is designed to help customers on a fixed income such as Social Security, retirement, or disability benefits who receive only one monthly income check that falls outside the due date of their electric bills. After enrollment, the billing due date will extend 9 days from the normal billing due date. To remain eligible for the program, payment must be received on time. Credit restrictions apply. Call 800.700.8744 for more information or to sign up.


Quote:
Lifeline Assistance: Available from Your Local Phone Company

If you receive assistance from any of the programs below, you can save up to $13.50 per month on local phone service with Lifeline Assistance:

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
Medicaid
Federal Public Housing or Section 8 Assistance
Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
Food Stamps
Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
National School Lunch Free Meals Program

You also qualify for 50 percent off of your service connection fee (up to $30) if applicable, on new connections and transfer of service. Only one phone line per household is eligible for Lifeline. You may also qualify for Lifeline Assistance if your household income is less than 135 percent of the federal income poverty guidelines. Call the Florida Office of Public Counsel at 1-800-540-7039 or your local phone provider for details or to request an application.


On this page is info on budget billing/averaging the bill:

https://www.progress-energy.com/florida/home/billing-payments/budget-billing/index.page?

Quote:
Budget Billing is an optional payment program designed to help residential customers avoid unpredictable bills by equalizing payments over the course of three months.

Program benefits:

Easy to budget
Predictable bills
No charge

How the program works:

Your monthly Budget Billing amount will be based on the average of your actual bills during the last 12 months (including local taxes, franchise fees, private area lighting, and energy management credits).* This amount will be the same for at least three months.
We continue to read your meter each month. Your monthly bill shows exactly how much energy you use, the actual bill amount, and the deferred balance on your account.
The difference between your actual bill and your Budget Billing amount each month will be shown as a deferred balance. This may be a credit or a debit.
Every three months, your Budget Billing amount will be recalculated to reflect the average of your last 12 months' actual bills and your deferred balance.

*Note: If you have not established 12 months' usage, the consumption history of the previous occupant will be considered to determine the average bill amount. For homes without a consumption history (new construction), the area average will be used.

Eligibility requirements:

Residential account
No past due balances*
Good credit history

*Note: Past due balances may be cause for removal from the program for a 12 month period.


firefly
 
  2  
Reply Sat 3 Mar, 2012 10:18 pm
@jcboy,
I think I agree with you that if you secretly paid his bill for him he might find out and get upset. I can understand the impulse to want to pay his bill for him, I think I would feel the same way. And, while that might be a nice gesture, it might also make him feel uncomfortable, or even suspicious about what was going on.

I think that, since the two of you are good friends, you should approach the situation more directly with him. Can you go over and pay him a visit? If so, go over and tell him you noticed his lights weren't on and that made you concerned about him. Ask him if he is having a problem with the electric company, without mentioning the bill, and see what he tells you about the reason his lights were off. Regardless of what he mentions, tell him you'd like to help him with the problem, and offer to loan him the money to cover the bill if that will help straighten out the problem, and let him know you're not at all in a hurry to get the loan repaid, and that it would make you feel good to be able to do this for him because he's been such a nice friend to you..

A loan offer seems like less of a handout, and maybe it would give you the opportunity to discuss finances with him, out of genuine concern. If he's not able to afford his electric bill, what else can't he afford? Food? Medication? A phone? Does he have family who help him out? Is is aware of the benefits for seniors in your area?

There are a lot of services available to senior citizens that he might, or might not, know about and that you could possibly help connect him to by contacting the social worker at the local senior citizens center. He possibly might, for instance, be able to get discounted utility rates as a senior with limited income, or larger savings on his property tax.

If he's really floundering financially, something like a reverse mortgage, if he doesn't already have one, would allow him to use the equity in his home to cover his living expenses, and those don't have to be re-paid until the homeowner moves out of the house or dies, and they are designed for seniors to help keep them in their homes.

I'd worry about a 72 year old neighbor being in the dark days at a time, and without a working refrigerator during that period. And the unpaid electric bill, might only be the tip of the iceberg in terms of his financial difficulties. He might be going without other things he needs, beside electricity every few months. So, if you could get him to open up to you, you might be able to do more for him than just pay his electric bill. You might be able to connect him to a social worker, or an agency for seniors, or some other social service, that could make sure his overall welfare was being attended to as well as seeing if they could get any additional senior benefits for him. The social workers connected to the senior citizen centers tend to be good resource people.

I guess you also need to make sure that he isn't just forgetting to pay bills. The problem might be declining cognitive/memory functions and not finances.

It's very caring of you to be so concerned about your neighbor.You are a kind soul.






Ragman
 
  1  
Reply Sat 3 Mar, 2012 11:10 pm
@Butrflynet,
FWIW, in these parts of FL the electric power utility is called Florida Power and Light Co. (FPL).

http://www.fpl.com/community/human_services.shtml
roger
 
  3  
Reply Sat 3 Mar, 2012 11:16 pm
@firefly,
I would rather give than 'loan'. Those old loans can create a barrier between people much quicker than an outright gift - ususally. Each case is different.

Whatever, we should all keep in mind there is often a reconnect fee that can be higher that the outstanding balance.
0 Replies
 
CalamityJane
 
  1  
Reply Sun 4 Mar, 2012 12:06 am
I agree with roger! Plus, I would not embarrass Gilbert by confronting him
with it. There must be a way to anonymously pay the electric bill, I am certain of it.
0 Replies
 
Butrflynet
 
  1  
Reply Sun 4 Mar, 2012 12:22 am
@Ragman,
Thanks Ragman. I only found one company when I searched for St. Pete electric companies.
0 Replies
 
aidan
 
  1  
Reply Sun 4 Mar, 2012 12:48 am
Firefly wrote:
Quote:
I think I agree with you that if you secretly paid his bill for him he might find out and get upset.
I can understand the impulse to want to pay his bill for him, I think I would feel the same way. And, while that might be a nice gesture, it might also make him feel uncomfortable, or even suspicious about what was going on. I think that, since the two of you are good friends, you should approach the situation more directly with him.
Can you go over and pay him a visit?
If so, go over and tell him you noticed his lights weren't on and that made you concerned about him. Ask him if he is having a problem with the electric company, without mentioning the bill, and see what he tells you about the reason his lights were off.
Regardless of what he mentions, tell him you'd like to help him with the problem, and offer to loan him the money to cover the bill if that will help straighten out the problem, and let him know you're not at all in a hurry to get the loan repaid, and that it would make you feel good to be able to do this for him because he's been such a nice friend to you..
A loan offer seems like less of a handout, and maybe it would give you the opportunity to discuss finances with him, out of genuine concern. If he's not able to afford his electric bill, what else can't he afford? Food? Medication? A phone? Does he have family who help him out? Is is aware of the benefits for seniors in your area?
There are a lot of services available to senior citizens that he might, or might not, know about and that you could possibly help connect him to by contacting the social worker at the local senior citizens center.
He possibly might, for instance, be able to get discounted utility rates as a senior with limited income, or larger savings on his property tax. If he's really floundering financially, something like a reverse mortgage, if he doesn't already have one, would allow him to use the equity in his home to cover his living expenses, and those don't have to be re-paid until the homeowner moves out of the house or dies, and they are designed for seniors to help keep them in their homes.
I'd worry about a 72 year old neighbor being in the dark days at a time, and without a working refrigerator during that period. And the unpaid electric bill, might only be the tip of the iceberg in terms of his financial difficulties. He might be going without other things he needs, beside electricity every few months.


So, if you could get him to open up to you, you might be able to do more for him than just pay his electric bill. You might be able to connect him to a social worker, or an agency for seniors, or some other social service, that could make sure his overall welfare was being attended to as well as seeing if they could get any additional senior benefits for him.
The social workers connected to the senior citizen centers tend to be good resource people. I guess you also need to make sure that he isn't just forgetting to pay bills. The problem might be declining cognitive/memory functions and not finances. It's very caring of you to be so concerned about your neighbor.
You are a kind soul.


I agree with Firefly - specifically for the points she made which I highlighted- which may very well be true. If he can't pay something basic like his electricity bill, there are probably other things he is going without and there is help available to him if he knows how to access it.

My mother is also elderly, but luckily, one of my sisters is an intensive care nurse practitioner and another is a social worker, so they make sure she accesses all of the resources that are there to help her.
If this man comes from Columbia, English may not be his first language and he may not have family nearby who can help him access and understand all of the resources that are available to him.
What Firefly says is very true.
And it's a simple matter of respect. I wouldn't want someone addressing my problems without first consulting me. Just because he's elderly and lacking funds doesn't mean he's lost his decision-making faculties.

I would speak to him about it first and tell him that you are willing to help him out in whatever way you can and allow him to make the decision as to whether or not he is willing to accept that help and to what extent.
0 Replies
 
MMarciano
 
  3  
Reply Sun 4 Mar, 2012 08:22 am
I’m a nurse practitioner and I’ve spoken to Gilbert several times, he’s sharp as a tack so I don’t believe he’s forgetting to pay his bills, he’s just running short once in a while. I agree with firefly, if he can’t pay his electric bill he’s going without other necessities that we don’t know about.

We spoke last week and he told me he had to put a new battery in his truck and it cost him $120.00, that probably put a dent in his budget.

Being in my line of work I have some connections with social service agencies and elderly care in the community. We’re going to invite him over for lunch today and have a talk.
Ragman
 
  1  
Reply Sun 4 Mar, 2012 08:38 am
@Butrflynet,
Oops .. In my haste, I missed including this utility company:

There's also Tampa Electric (TECO):

http://www.tampaelectric.com/
0 Replies
 
chai2
 
  3  
Reply Sun 4 Mar, 2012 08:38 am
@MMarciano,
Just wondering....

Are there any little projects going on around the house that's in his realm of expertise that you might be able to pay him an under the table consulting fee for?
That way, he wouldn't think it was charity (it wouldn't be) and you get things done that you would have been paying for anyway.

My husband is doing this for a friend and her construction company. He just goes out to job sites and makes sure everything they need is there, that no one is goofing off, and she pays him $12/hr cash.
It only takes up 8 to 12 hours a week, and it gives him cash in his pocket.

It's given an even bigger benefit that he feels he's being productive (he is, this helps the friend out a lot, and frees up her time for other things)
MMarciano
 
  8  
Reply Sun 4 Mar, 2012 08:52 am
@chai2,
That’s what we have in mind. Gilbert loves our dogs, and btw we have THREE OF THEM NOW!, he talks to them over the fence everyday.

We do need someone to check on them during the day while we’re at work. Morgan was thinking of hiring a dog sitter to do that, I’m sure Gilbert would love taking care of them, he loves the dogs. We’re going to propose the idea to him today at lunch.
BillRM
 
  1  
Reply Sun 4 Mar, 2012 09:51 am
@jcboy,
If you find out he is willing to talk to you about his financial problems you might suggest he consider taking out a reverse mortgage on his home.

The added cash flow would likely be enough to solve his problems for the rest of his life.

0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Sun 4 Mar, 2012 10:01 am
@MMarciano,
Glad to hear that, Marco. I'm positive there's some assistance out there for him, as listed in the link to the power company (perhaps the wrong one, but I think most power companies/states have similar programs) - he probably doesn't have any idea how to access the assistance.
0 Replies
 
 

Related Topics

 
  1. Forums
  2. » My neighbor is on a fixed income
Copyright © 2019 MadLab, LLC :: Terms of Service :: Privacy Policy :: Page generated in 0.03 seconds on 10/17/2019 at 09:55:18