Low-income families needing help paying high heating bills can apply for aid through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).
Jessica Arroyo, coordinator of the LaRue County office of the Central Kentucky Community Action Council, said they started accepting applications Jan. 7.
“We’ll take applications now through March 31 or until the funds run out,” she said.
Each year the LIHEAP program helps about 150,000 families across the state pay their heating bills. The U.S. Department for Health and Human Services allocates funds through the Cabinet for Health and Family Services. The Cabinet contracts with Community Action agencies to accept applications and disperse the money.
The home heating aspect of LIHEAP has two main components: subsidy and crisis assistance. Arroyo said the subsidy aspect of the program is done; crisis assistance is the program now in gear.
“Crisis help is given when someone has received a shut-off notice” or are within a few days of running out of heating fuel, Arroyo said. Those whose heating costs are part of their rent and who have received an eviction notice because of unpaid rent may also qualify. Some households may be required to pay a copayment toward the heating cost, Arroyo said.
Assistance of up to $400 for natural gas or electric or up to 200 gallons of propane, fuel oil or kerosene may be provided. For those who rely on wood-burning devices for heat, up to two cords of wood may be provided.
The program is based on household income. For a single person, the monthly household income before taxes cannot exceed $1,211; for two people living in the home, the amount is $1,640; $2,069 for three people live in the household; $2,498 if four people live in the household; $2,927 if five people live in the home. For a family of six, the income limit is $3,356.
To apply, a person must bring a photo ID, as well as proof of income for the entire household for the previous month, Arroyo said. For example, in January, applicants must bring proof of what the household income was for December. Applicants must also bring proof of Social Security numbers and birthdates for everyone living in the home.
For those people with no income, a Zero Income Report must be picked up and completed before applying for LIHEAP funds, Arroyo said.
Applicants heating with propane, fuel oil, carry kerosene or wood must provide a metered bill in their name as proof of their address, she added.
The office is open from 8:30 a.m. to noon and 1 to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. Arroyo said clients should expect a wait at the office while applications are being taken.
“We had people lined up outside before the office opened” when the crisis program began last week, she said.
She said she expects the LIHEAP funds to be used quickly. In 2012, the program distributed $41,000 to 315 families in LaRue County.
Arroyo said some clients are struggling after layoffs, while many others are on fixed incomes. “We get a lot of elderly and disabled,” she said. “They’re on Social Security or SSI. The majority of those we help just have a very low income.”
She said the local office also has a clothing bank and a food bank to help people.
“We are here to help them, to assist them with their needs,” she said.
The Community Action office is located at 120 S. Greensburg St., Hodgenville.
Anyone with questions should call the office at (270) 358-3937.