CSA taking energy assistance applications
by CHRISTY ARMSTRONG Banner Staff Writer
Jun 01, 2014 | 1107 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print

People who have been waiting since December to receive assistance to help pay for their home energy needs may soon receive it.

The staff of the Bradley-Cleveland Community Services Agency has been working to process the applications of those who applied for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program and were not accepted late last year.

Some applications remained unprocessed because the agency ran out of funding, program coordinator Jackie Westfield said. Now, those applications are being taken care of, and new ones are being accepted.

“We have received additional funding,” Westfield said. “We are in the process of funding the applications”

LIHEAP is a program that helps low-income individuals pay for energy costs so they can have heat in the winter or air conditioning in the summer. Those who need that assistance can apply for the program at the local community services agency, and money is paid directly to the utility company on that person’s behalf.

Last year, governance and funding of the program was transferred from the Tennessee Department of Human Services to the Tennessee Housing Development Agency, a change that Westfield said impacted the funding schedule and the amount of funding available.

That was due in part to the state housing development agency working on a different budget year schedule. The local agency had been used to receiving funds from a state agency that had a fiscal year that began in July, but Westfield said the state agency it is working with now has a fiscal year that begins in October.

That meant local people who might have received energy assistance in August or September after the start of the new fiscal year in July had to wait until after October — until November or December — to receive funding.

During November and December, Westfield said the local agency also found the state program was “not able to maintain the funding level” needed to fund the accounts of all the local applicants. However, more state funding has since been approved for distribution to local agencies like the one in Cleveland.

“It was just a transitional period,” Westfield said.

The Cleveland-Bradley Community Services Agency is now focusing on taking care of the applicants who applied during the winter months and did not receive assistance. It is also taking new applications as local residents brace themselves for the heat of the summer.

LIHEAP is a program for those who have incomes that do not exceed 150 percent of the federal poverty level. A single person would have to be making less than $17,505, and a family of four would need to have a household income less than $35,775.

If approved, a household could be eligible for between $300 and $450 to offset energy costs, Westfield said. The assistance comes in the form of a one-time payment to the utility company.

Those who have not received energy assistance since October 2013 are eligible to apply.

It generally takes 60 days before money is sent to the company, but people who meet certain requirements like being disabled or having a child under the age of 5 could receive assistance sooner if their situation is deemed an emergency.

For more information about this program and others, call the agency at 423-479-4111.