ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — With inflation taking more and more money out of our budgets, many people have been burdened by high energy costs, and many say that sometimes they’re left with almost no way to pay their bills.

While the state regulates the cost of electricity, it can still be a challenge to stay on top of the bill. Recently, people have been putting up with drastic changes to keep the lights on.

People in Roanoke say, if it’s this bad now, they fear what those bills will look like in the fall and winter months.

“I either pay this bill and nothing else or pay rent and don’t pay no bills. You know, it’s one or the other,” said Teresa Cardona, a resident of Roanoke.

Teresa’s on disability and says juggling bills, recently, has left her in situations where she’s had to choose between getting a shut-off notice or an eviction notice.

“I had to throw away all of my food that I just bought because my electric got turned off,” Cardona said.

There’s a shocking number of people in situations like hers.

Roanoke Area Ministries helps area residents with utility bills through their Emergency Financial Assistance Program.

Executive Director Melissa Woodson says, last year, they spent $83,000 on utility assistance. So far this year, they’ve spent more than $125,000, an 85% increase.

“We actually have had long lines. We’ve had to actually put people in order as they come in, so we’re serving the people who get here first, and sometimes we’ve had to cut off that line and people have to come back the next day,” Woodson said.

With fall and winter months just around the corner, they’re expecting more.

“Typically we see a surge of people, in the fall. So when that happens this fall, it’s going to be tough,” Woodson said. “I just hope that people are going to be understanding and loving and keep giving so we can keep our city from having a huge homeless population,” said Woodson.

To help and donate to the Emergency Financial Assistance Program, visit here.