Patsy’s Story: Family or Energy?

Patsy’s Story: Family or Energy?

April 15, 2019

What would you do if you had to choose between feeding a loved one and paying the energy bill? Each year, more than 400,000 Oregon families face this question – people like Patsy, a recent OEF recipient.

Patsy is a senior who lives in Multnomah County and relies on in-home oxygen to breathe. Patsy’s husband is in a care facility, and while she’s generally able to squeeze by, she has very little money left over each month for groceries and other expenses.

Last year, Patsy unexpectedly had to take in her young grandson, a life change that stretched her limited budget to the breaking point. She not only needed to buy extra groceries to feed a growing boy. Her energy bill also increased with her grandson’s needs, causing her to fall behind on her bill payments.

Patsy didn’t qualify for state or federal assistance. So she reached out to Oregon Energy Fund, where we were able to get her caught up on her bill, and pointed Patsy towards additional support programs that would prevent her from falling behind in the future.

Stories from seniors like Patsy are all too common, and one of the reasons we launched our new Senior Discount Pilot Program. This program is a collaboration with Meals on Wheels People that provides monthly energy assistance to Portland-area seniors. One-time assistance is invaluable for folks who are already in a tight situation and need a hand getting back on their feet. But for seniors whose tight budgets leave them especially vulnerable to falling behind, recurring assistance can prevent them from reaching the crisis point of having to choose between heat, rent, and food.