$22 Million Available to Help Heat Some W.Va. Homes

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Nearly $22 million dollars is available to help West Virginians pay their heating bills. Barbara Sanchez is hoping for just a few hundred of that to help her make it through the winter.

"I'm on a limited income," Sanchez says. "It's going to let us pay a little more for other things, maybe more food."

The deadline for signing up was Jan. 27, 2012. Southwest Community Action is the agency which helped sign people up in several counties, including Cabell. The agency had 750 applicants in a 10-day period.

While that may sound like a lot, the numbers are actually down.

"'I think a lot of it had to do with the mild weather," Alissa Stewart says. "We'll still see a winter, and I'm just hoping some people who didn't think that winter's already passed by, I'm afraid there are people that might have missed out."

The money comes from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which released the funds for West Virginia’s Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).

According to U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller's office, LIHEAP provides energy assistance to about 111,500 West Virginia households a year. Of those households that received assistance in 2010, 25 percent were elderly, 52 percent were disabled, and 23 percent had children under 5 years old in the home.

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