Friday, July 23, 2021
Starting at noon today, Jackson residents can go to the Mississippi Trademart at the Mississippi Fairgrounds for rental assistance through federal financial aid covering 15 months, and utility bill assistance for gas, electricity, water/sewer and trash removal.
The City of Jackson and the Mississippi Home Corporation co-hosted the two-day program from noon to 3 p.m. on Friday, July 23, and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, July 24. It will also feature representatives from Atmos Energy, a gas company and Entergy, an electricity company.
Rivers Ormon, the corporate communications officer of the Mississippi Home Corporation, outlined the documents people should bring to receive rental assistance at a press briefing on Monday, July 19.
"You will need a valid ID, a lease agreement, your landlord's contact information, proof you're at risk of homelessness or housing instability, income documentation for the year of 2020, and if income documentation is not available, or you don't have an income, we will have forms that you can complete on location as well," she said. "Additional documents will be unemployment benefits, document documentation, and a determination letter for other things such as Medicaid or Head-start, et cetera."
Ormon explained that the event will expand the opportunity for people to take advantage of the program. "This event is going to serve as an opportunity for those who may not have access to the internet and, or need help filling out an application for our rental assistance program to come and have that one-on-one interaction, and internet and paper applications will be available as well to fill those out."
At the press briefing, Atmos Energy Public Affairs Managers Robert Leslie and Linda Waters said that the company had done similar events on a smaller scale. "We're excited and proud to support the City of Jackson and the (Mississippi) Public Utility Staff, the Mississippi Home Corporation and Entergy in the efforts to provide awareness of utility assistance that's available to the constituents of the city of Jackson and across the state," Waters said. "We are pleased to be a part of this great endeavor. We look forward to seeing the results from the outcome of the assistance that's available to the citizens of this community."
"We'd like to invite the constituents to also visit our website for additional information on assistance that's available at www.atmosenergy.com. Take a moment to visit our website; you will find a wealth of information on assistance that's available to you as well."
Entergy Mississippi Senior Customer Service Specialist Amy Davidson said the company is already working with its customers to get bill payment reliefs. "This is a great program for those that rent in our city that were impacted by COVID, and we're going to be there to do whatever we can to help all of our customers," she added. "We'll have volunteers there, and we look forward to folks coming out and getting some help as they are struggling through this time."
The two-day event comes before water cut-offs resume in the city on Sept. 1 after the City stopped it in May 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic. "It is important that those applying for the City’s Pilot Water Bill Assistance Program (which began July 19) also apply for this opportunity in order to take advantage of the maximum possible relief available," City of Jackson Communications Director Michelle Atoa wrote in an email statement on July 13.
The mayor, at the Monday press briefing, urged residents not to let the moment slip by as there might not be another opportunity to get months of rental and utility bills relief. "My prayer is that it is wildly successful; my prayer is that the people who need this assistance most receive word and make arrangements to be there," he said. "Often, when the information is not disseminated as it should be and the opportunities are no longer present, people come forward and tell us of their needs."
"This is not a moment that we can duck our heads in the sand; this is not a moment we can wait until another day."
Email story tips to city/county reporter Kayode Crown at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @kayodecrown.