Struggle for heat takes them outside -- in the cold

Reported by Mika Highsmith email
Posted by Taurence Armstrong

TOLEDO (WTOL) - Some Toledoans have been hit hard by the economic slump, scrambling and struggling to pay their electric and gas bills. So, they are turning to the Economic Opportunity Planning Association of Greater Toledo for help.

But getting assistance isn't easy.

People are often seen camped outside the EOPA office at 3 a.m., in the rain, waiting for help.

"They shut off my gas," Edwin Hernandez said, as he stood outside the office.

Other people whose services were interrupted persistently ask for help, yet haven't received it.

"I've been here three days in a row," Dewayne Jones said.

The help many Toledoans stand in line for is a $175 one-time utility assistance credit, but only the first seven people in line receive it. The others receive instructions.

"They tell people to call the main number," Hernandez said.

Carlise Arnett calls the office so frequently that she's memorized it, but she still hasn't received help.

"You're not getting through at all," she said. She also camped outside of the office, still to no avail.

For three weeks, Arnett has been using her oven to heat her home, and her stove to heat water. But until her call goes through, she's just like Hernandez -- still without help.

"We're struggling to survive," Hernandez said.

Now, Hernandez might not have to struggle. His call finally got through, and Mika was able to get an appointment for Arnett.

If you are at home and having a hard time calling the EOPA main line, call 419-242-7304 or visit the office at Collingwood and Hamilton between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Ask for the supervisor and they'll help you schedule and appointment from now until March 31.