Portlanders dealing with heating bill increase due to winter sto - KPTV - FOX 12

Portlanders dealing with heating bill increase due to winter storms

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PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

As another winter storm rolls into the Portland metro area, some people are still struggling to pay their heating bills from the last blast of cold weather.

Whether you heat your home with natural gas or electricity, local experts say heating bills have doubled and even tripled in the last two months, and people are seeking assistance to pay them now more than ever.

"It's the highest it's been since I've lived in my residence," said Cynthia Jessie.

Jessie lives alone in northeast Portland but usually has a house full of grandkids.

During the winter snow and ice storms, Jessie had no choice but to crank up the heat, raising her gas bill from an average $60 a month to $235 in January.

"Because the house is older, it gets really airy. So in order to keep them warm, I'd keep them dressed, but I'd have to burn the gas more often than usual," said Jessie.

Jessie went to Impact NW on Wednesday seeking assistance to pay her bill and she's not alone.

"It's hard. You want to be able to help everybody. Especially families and seniors," said Alison Dougherty with Impact NW.

Dougherty says hundreds of low income Portlanders are struggling to pay their heat bills this winter more so than ever before.

A couple weeks ago, clients couldn't make it in to get their assistance and once they did, resources went fast.

"We ran through our December and January funding in record time," said Dougherty.

As another cold snap creeps in, Mayor Ted Wheeler and Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury are asking for leniency in an open letter to landlords, saying:

"For tenants who can show they worked fewer hours in January than in past months, we ask that landlords consider waiving late fees in February, and entering into voluntary payment plans to recover past due rent rather than issuing non-payment of rent notices and pursuing evictions."

For now, Jessie isn't worried about losing her home, but she is dreading the next heating bill.

"There's no strategy to it. I just have to turn on the gas," said Jessie.

To find out which agencies have funding to help with energy assistance, call 211 for a list of options.

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