ROCKFORD (WIFR) – There is major frustration surrounding a program that helps families afford their electricity in the summer.
It sounds like one big miscommunication among the city and local agencies, and people who need help the most are caught in the middle. Today the City of Rockford started taking calls from residents who wanted to apply for assistance. The city sent out a news release saying those calls would start at 9 a.m., however at least one different site that also takes appointments, started taking calls earlier.
Jennifer smith tried to call two sites she started calling at nine a.m., the time the city publicized. When she finally got through to Lifescape, at 9:08, she was told all appointments were full. That's when they informed her that Lifescape actually started taking calls at 8 a.m., even though the city said 9 a.m. Smith says that's frustrating. She believes she missed out on much-needed benefits because of miscommunication.
"It's very frustrating but more or less it's not just me that's getting hurt by this. You know I have to have the air on I'm on medication that I have to use the air or I get sick and so the summer time, it's kind of important especially when the humidity is high,” Smith said.
The city says the general rule is that all the sites are supposed to start taking calls at 9 a.m. They weren't aware Lifescape was taking calls earlier. We’ve since found out, they started earlier due to staffing issues and once spots filled up with Lifescape, they referred people to call the city's site, which normally doesn't take calls for seniors and the disabled.
When the city starts taking calls for heating assistance in the fall, the city says the calls are going to start when the individual agencies open for business, so those times will vary, but the city says they’re going to publicize those exact times.