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'You don’t know until you try': Kansas City resident urges community to seek out utility assistance

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Posted at 6:14 PM, Jan 31, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-31 19:14:21-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The month of January saw a wide array of temperatures, from as low as below zero to as high as the 60s.

As the month draws to a close, one resident wants her community to know that help for utilities is available year-round.

Neeco Sims isn’t afraid to ask for help, especially when it comes to eye-popping water bills.

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“I didn’t have $671,” Sims said. “And even with having $671, I mean, there’s other things like rent, there’s clothes, I’m a foster parent, I’m a respite provider.”

Foster care keeps her busy, and she’s known to have stacks and stacks of files for her job.

The one thing you won’t find in her pile, however, is stress.

“It’s like I can ‘Woosah,'" Sims said. “I got a light bill paid, water bill paid, and my gas bill paid in full. Now, what more can I ask for?”

She looked to a resource she’s been using for years — Evergy’s Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).

Missouri residents like Sims can apply for LIHEAP year-round, and Kansas residents can apply for LIEAP, or Low Income Energy Assistance Program, through March 29.

“The need is so important,” said Alisha Duarte, Evergy’s senior customer affairs advisor. “So many customers are struggling to pay their energy costs, and so, again, we want to make sure they have the necessary tools and resources that can help them with those energy burdens.”

Duarte was the liaison between Sims and her neighborhood agency, Community Assistance Council, to help her get utility assistance.

Sims says she’s been using LIHEAP funds for years. Other people she’s come across, however, can’t say the same.

“We’ve seen a lot of customers that may not be aware that they qualify for these programs,” Duarte said, despite Evergy expanding its income guidelines.

Sims says the reasoning behind awareness varies, but for those who do know about programs like this, not everyone can put their pride aside.

“The ones that do know about the resources, I think they’re just ashamed to go get help, or they’re too prideful to go get help,” Sims said.

She says that’s never been the case for her and that with multiple children to take care of, she’ll take any resources she can get.

Sims wants her fellow community members to know that help is out there and available, regardless of what time of year it is.

She says she’s also found that receiving help in one place has opened doors she didn’t know existed.

“Once you get connected with these agencies, there are a lot of good resources,” Sims said.

She says from there — the help, and receipts — overflow.

“You don’t know until you try,” Sims said.

For those interested in more information on Evergy’s financial assistance options and in-person assistance available, visit their website.

Residents living in the Hickman Mills and Center School Districts are eligible for assistance from the CAC, and more information is available here.