Oklahoma City approves millions in federal money to help residents with bills

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The City of Oklahoma City is now handing out over $12 million to residents to pay for things like rent, utilities, food and daycare. Officials say the money will go toward helping those most in need.

“Five, almost six days without gas, without hot water, being able to cook,” said Matt Reno.

Reno, an Oklahoma City resident, had his gas shut off over the weekend.

The unemployed CDL driver says he is having trouble paying the bills since he lost his job, thanks to COVID-19.

“We are behind on everything,” said Reno.

Fortunately, help may be on the way.

On Tuesday, the Oklahoma City Council approved $12 million in federal CARES ACT money be set aside to help Oklahoma City residents pay for things like overdue rent, utilities, daycare, food and re-training.

“Oh, the stress, I can’t even imagine what some of these people are going through. We can help people stand back up and move forward,” said Ginny Bass Carl, executive director of Community Cares Partners.

Bass Carl says her group is one of a number of organizations that will make sure the money finds its way to those in need. No money will actually go to residents, it will go directly to the creditor to pay the overdue bills.

“We can not pay forward any expenses but we can help them with things that have come due,” said Bass Carl.

Over half of the funds, $6 million, is marked for individuals making less than $41,000 a year and families making less than $60,000.

“If we can be that gap filler and get them going, get them moving forward, the entire community is better off,” said Bass Carl.

Officials say a website will be up soon and so will a physical office near N.W. 10th and Broadway downtown. Organizers say they are also working so you can dial 211 on your phone.

“When you call 211 and say it’s either COVID or housing, we will be getting the next call and we can help you from there,” said Bass Carl.

Since the funding isn’t in place until next week, officials with HeartLine, the operator of 211, say that callers will have to wait to receive important information about the program.

Oklahoma City residents welcome the help.

“Until you mentioned it, I had no idea about that program. If it actually works and it actually gets to us, it would be great,” said Reno.

Officials say priority will be given to those needing help with rent and utilities, and the first payments could go out by July 24.

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