Glasgow Daily Times, Glasgow, KY

Local News

October 31, 2010

Aid available to pay heating costs

GLASGOW — Escalating heating costs this winter may prove to be a problem for some Barren County residents, especially those who may be suffering financially due to the loss of work.

Community Action of Southern Kentucky offers financial assistance through its Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program to those who are having difficulty paying heating costs.

LIHEAP is actually two programs rolled into one. It offers a subsidy portion, which provides benefits to anyone who applies and is eligible. The other portion is for those who find themselves in a crisis.

Community Action will begin taking applications for the subsidy portion of the LIHEAPā€ˆprogram on Monday and will continue taking applications through Dec. 10.  

“Everyone who comes in and applies and is eligible will get the benefit,” said Charity Parrish, public information coordinator for Community Action.

To qualify for the subsidy portion of LIHEAP people will need to responsible for home energy costs, directly or as an undesignated portion of their rent.

“You [also] have to have a combined household income not in excess of 130 percent of the federal poverty level,” she said. “An example of that is a family of four with the maximum gross monthly income of $2,389.”

Applicants must also live in Kentucky and should apply for financial assistance in the county in which they live.

“You may not have any liquid resources in excess of $2,000. That could increase if someone is in the household who is 60 years old or disabled,” Parrish said. “They can have $3,000 in liquid assets and $4,000 if resources are being used for living expenses due to catastrophic illnesses.”

For the crisis portion of LIHEAP, applicants must  have received a disconnect notice that their heat is going to be cut off, or they are going to run out of fuel within four days, she said.

In 2009, more than 823 Barren County households received financial assistance from the LIHEAP subsidy program, stated a Community Action press release.

The number of people Community Action assists each year with heating their homes has increased each year.

“I think it is because unemployment rates are still high,” Parrish said.

Those seeking assistance through either portion of the program should bring their most recent heating bill or verification from their landlord that the heating expenses are included in their rent; a Social Security card or Permanent Resident card for each member of the household; and proof of household for all members’ income for the preceding moth, the press release stated.

The amount of assistance each household receiveds is based on its level of poverty and the type of fuel used for heating. All eligible households will receive a benefit, although the benefit amount may not pay the households’s entire fuel bill, stated the press release.

Applications are taken according to the first name of the last name of the person who is head of each household. For a schedule of when applications will be taken, visit Community Action’s website at www.casoky.org

Community Action isn’t the only organization that offers assistance to people who find themselves in a pinch and can’t pay their heating bills.

The Community Relief Fund of Glasgow and Barren County also offers assistance.

“What we do year-round, whether it’s electric, gas, water, rent ... . We don’t have a set designated time for heating or cooling,” said Sue Haynes, director. “We’re here year round.”

Community Relief steps in to help families who are not eligible for Community Action’s LIHEAP Program. If a family heat with gas, but needs electricity for the furnace to operate, Community Relief can help the family with financial assistance to pay the utility that is not covered by Community Action’s LIHEAP Program, she said.

“We might help on that, but there again that depends on what all their expenses are, their legitimate basic needs,” Haynes said. “If they spend all of their money on other things, like HBO or Cinemax, rather that what it needed to be used for we probably won’t assist.”

Community Relief bases its financial assistance on need. The number of families the organization can help at the present time is limited due to a decrease in donations.

“We don’t have the state and federal funds coming in,” Haynes said, adding that Community Relief relies on donations from individuals, churches, city and county government and the United Way of Southern Kentucky.

Some utility companies, like Atmos Energy, also offer assistance.

The gas company, which services Glasgow, is working with state energy officials and local energy assistance agencies to help customers through its Sharing the Warmth programs, which donates more than $1 million to energy assistance agencies to aid low-income, elderly and disabled customers pay their natural gas bills, said an Atmos Energy press release.

Atmos Energy customers unable to pay their natural gas bill should call the company before their account becomes past due, stated the press release.

The Glasgow Electric Plant Board does not have an assistance program, but it does refer customers who may be having difficulty paying their electric bill to Community Action or to Community Relief, said Bill Anderson, Glasgow EPB customer relations manager.

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