By Kati Weis

DENVER (CBS4) – The cost of pretty much everything is surging, including food, gas, housing, cars, and clothes. The staggering inflation is hitting Coloradans hard this holiday season, with one energy nonprofit reporting they’ve received over 500 calls for help last week alone, because people can’t afford their heating bill.

“Every number is going up, and no one’s getting raises, no one’s getting richer,” said Denise Stepto with Energy Outreach Colorado. “Last week and the week ending December 5, we completed 574 applications for help, and that amount of money that we spent to help people was over $300,000.”

(credit: Getty)

New government data shows U.S. consumer prices soared in November, up 6.8 percent in the past year – the biggest jump since 1982.

According to the report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, released Friday, energy prices for electricity and home heating have increased more than 33% in the last year, and gas has skyrocketed 58% – the largest 12-month increase since 1980.

A major reason prices remain high is because of continued disruptions in the supply chain. Other reasons to blame are the rebound from the pandemic recession, a flood of government stimulus, and ultra-low interest rates.

Federal officials say inflation could improve soon, something Denver residents like Jesús Pineda hope is true. He’s concerned about being able to afford Christmas presents this year.

“It’s affected me a lot, as far as having the same pay and everything increasing, so, I mean, there has to be something we can do about it,” Pineda said. “Hopefully things get better, as far as a raise in the pay, hopefully things don’t get any higher.”

Stepto said those are concerns she’s heard from many Coloradans.

“In order to pay your bill you are sometimes forced to make a choice do I eat, or pay my rent, or pay my utility, or buy my medication? So who says which one of those is the most important?” Stepto said. “Many times people go without food, many times people are rationing out their medication, and these are real situations.”

Energy Outreach Colorado says it’s handled more than 10,000 calls to its energy help hotline so far in 2021. If you are having trouble paying your utility bills, or can’t afford to fix your furnace, the organization is here to help.

Call 1-866-432-8435 for its energy help hotline to be connected with the right resources for your situation.

You can also find more resources by clicking here for the Energy Outreach Colorado website.

Kati Weis