'Winter is already here': Free energy-saving kits available to Marin Co. low-income families

ByCornell Barnard KGO logo
Wednesday, November 22, 2023
Free energy-saving kits available to Marin Co. low-income families
A North Bay non-profit is arming low-income families with energy and water-saving devices to put a dent in their rising bills during the winter months.

MARIN COUNTY, Calif. (KGO) -- In the North Bay, a new program is helping low-income families cope with rising utility bills. A Marin non-profit is arming families with energy and water-saving devices to put a dent in monthly bills.

The annual drive-thru Thanksgiving meal giveaway is happening at North Marin Community Services, where the need for food has never been greater.

"Of course, it's a big help for us," said Luz Lopez from Novato.

But this year, Lopez isn't thankful for her rising monthly water and power bills.

MORE: PG&E says customers likely to see big increase in power bills soon

"My PG&E bill is high and the house where I live is comfortable but cold and I am a senior," said Lopez.

In January monthly PG&E bills will jump nearly 13 percent and some Marin Water bills have spiked nearly 20 percent since the summer, after approved rate increases.

"Families are living too close to the edge where one crisis is going to impact them, pay their PG&E or put food on the table," said Lili Palu from North Marin Community Services.

"You'll see different lightbulbs, and this is for your water and shower," said Maria Jaramillo from NMCS.

VIDEO: Residents grateful as 1st Thanksgiving meal held at new SJ supportive housing site

PATH Villas in San Jose, a supportive housing site for people 55 or older who were formally homeless, hosted a holiday dinner for its residents.

Free energy-saving kits are being sent to low-income families who fill out a survey. The partnership with other non-profits is designed to help cut utility bills. Maria Jaramillo is getting the word out, creating community outreach videos in Spanish.

"We have a smart plug-in you can connect to your cell phone," said Jaramillo.

"Families are really worried about how they're going to make it month by month," said Jaramillo.

This safety net organization now serves 10,000 people across Marin County every year.

"Rent, food, childcare, utilities, these are the stressors of the family home that we're seeing now," said North Marin Community Services CEO, Cheryl Paddack.

Helping families manage monthly bills is one way the agency is easing the pricey burden of living in the Bay Area. Lopez is hoping to get her own energy-saving kit soon.

"I hope so, winter is already here, I'm feeling it," she said.

You can find more information on the energy-saving kits here.

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