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LIHEAP funds available to help families with heating bills

Published: Dec. 29, 2020 at 5:08 PM EST
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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WSAZ) - Bills continue to pile up over the winter months, while unemployment rates are still high in much of the state, leading more people in need of assistance to pay their home energy costs.

The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) can lessen heating bills by hundreds of dollars, making it more manageable to avoid shutoffs in the spring.

According to Kentucky’s Cabinet for Health and Family Services, LIHEAP helps 150,000 families pay their heating bills in Kentucky each year.

“A lot of folks are nervous about how much money the federal government is going to extend benefits. I know they’re still working on it in Washington, but we know we need to provide as much support as we possibly can. These are federal dollars that are helping,” said Eric Friedlander, secretary of Kentucky’s Cabinet for Health and Family Services.

The program has two types of payment: a subsidy and a crisis payment.

The crisis payments assist families who are in danger of having their heat disconnected or are behind paying their utility bills.

According to the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, the start date for the crisis phase of LIHEAP is Jan. 4, 2021.

“Beginning in January, we have what we call a crisis component. [Its a payment for those] that meet eligibility requirements and are facing a shut off of their utilities. Or run out of heating fuel. We can assist those families during the crisis months,” said Jason Dunn, director for Division of Family Support.

The household must be within 48 hours of having their utilities disconnected or within four days of being without coal, wood, propane, or kerosene.

A four-person household earning less than $36,400 a year qualifies for the crisis payment January through March or until the funds are depleted.

Dunn encourages those who need assistance to keep calling if the phone lines are busy.

“Community Action Agencies are fairly small. They’re seeing a huge uptick in the number of people. If they get a busy signal, try again,“ Dunn said.

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