People left in the dark as donations dwindle - KCTV5

People left in the dark as donations dwindle

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KCTV5 got a behind-the-scenes look of the work at Cross-Lines, which opens its rent and utility assistance phone line at 8 a.m.  It took minutes for Cross-Lines to give away all available funds for the entire week. KCTV5 got a behind-the-scenes look of the work at Cross-Lines, which opens its rent and utility assistance phone line at 8 a.m. It took minutes for Cross-Lines to give away all available funds for the entire week.
WYANDOTTE COUNTY, KS (KCTV) -

Hundreds of area families are sitting in the dark, possibly facing eviction, because they can't afford to pay their bills.

Making matters worse, funds for organizations seeking to help these struggling residents are drying up.

KCTV5 got a behind-the-scenes look of the work at one such agency, Cross-Lines, which opens its rent and utility assistance phone line at 8 a.m.

On the day of the visit, it took just 11 minutes 42 seconds for Cross-Lines to give away all available funds for the entire week.

"It breaks my heart because there is so much need out there," volunteer Marla Brassfield said.

Because funding is so limited, volunteers and case managers turn away about 100 people every week. That includes young families with small children, often with no running water or heat.

"Monday morning is like a circus around here. Our phones are ringing off the walls," Brassfield said.

Phones start ringing long before the lines open. Volunteers like Brassfield take calls from families who need rent or utility assistance in Wyandotte County. 

According to officials, nearly 25 percent of Wyandotte County residents live below the poverty level, compared to a little more than 13-percent statewide.

For many, the phone line is a lifeline.

"It is designed for people who are facing an unexpected emergency in their life. It could be a loss of a job or unexpected healthcare crisis," said Susila Jones, director of Emergency Services for Cross-Lines. "For every donation we get, we're able to put that money right into our utility and rent fund."

"It is so hard. I have elderly people calling who say, 'I call on Monday morning just like you told me to, and I'm just not fast enough,'" Brassfield lamented.

It should be noted that when Cross-Lines does turn someone away, it puts them in touch with other agencies that might be able to help, including The United Way. But there are no guarantees.

To donate to Cross-Lines, click here or call 913-281-3388.

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