Funds available for low-income home energy program

By AUTUMN HUGHES
Posted 4/15/18

With the recent nice weather, you may be thinking it means a break in utility bills – and you're right, at least for a while. In the same way the winter cold didn't last forever, it won't be long before the temperate spring turns into hot summer days.

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Funds available for low-income home energy program

Posted

With the recent nice weather, you may be thinking it means a break in utility bills – and you're right, at least for a while. In the same way the winter cold didn't last forever, it won't be long before the temperate spring turns into hot summer days.

And as the temperature climbs, so do utility costs as residents seek relief from the heat. Fortunately there is financial relief available, too.

Jackie Westfield, program coordinator for the Bradley/Cleveland Community Service Agency, said funding is available through the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP, a federally funded grant program. The program goes from July 1 to June 30 each year.

"We still have funds available," Westfield said, adding that any funds not used locally are returned to the state at the end of the program year.

In Bradley County, approximately 700 people who received LIHEAP funds last year have not applied this year.

"We want to be sure people are getting the benefit of the service," Westfield said.

Westfield said LIHEAP is not only for emergencies or when you receive a late notice from the utility company.

"You just have to meet the income guidelines," she said, adding those guidelines start at $1,508 monthly income for a one-person household.

"If they come in now during this time period they are eligible to come back after July 1," Westfield said, noting that marks the beginning of a new funding year. "You can only get assistance one time in the program year."

Assistance amounts range from $400 to $600, depending on the program criteria.

"The money's here, we'd love to spend it," Westfield said.

For more information or further assistance with the LIHEAP application process, contact Bradley/Cleveland Community Service Agency at 479-4111.

When applying for LIHEAP, please remember the following:

• Make sure to bring Social Security cards and dates of birth of all household members.

• If using electricity or natural gas, attach a copy of the current energy bills.

• Attach all copies of energy bills from all other sources used.

• Attach proof of income of all income for everyone who has income. Acceptable proofs of income include paycheck stubs (past eight weeks); copy of court orders or legal documents; award letters, approval of benefits notice; written, signed and dated statements of employers; copies of income tax returns for self-employed income; bank or financial institutions records (direct deposit slips); copies of Social Security benefit checks which are within the same calendar year as the date of application.

Applications are processed on a monthly basis.

The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP, is a federally funded grant program created by the Omnibus Reconciliation Act of 1981. The program aims to assist low income households, primarily those who pay a high proportion of household income on home energy, in meeting their immediate energy needs. In Tennessee LIHEAP is administered through a network of 19 local agencies that reach all 95 counties.

Applicants must meet income eligibility to receive LIHEAP assistance. Income eligible households are those at or below 150 percent of the U.S. Poverty Guidelines. Application, along with all necessary verifications, must be submitted through the designated LIHEAP agency in the applicant's county of residence. LIHEAP is a one-time assistance offered to help defray heating and cooling expenses, as long as funding is available.

LIHEAP assistance does not go directly to the client or applicant; rather direct payments are made through the LIHEAP agency to the local utility company or energy supplier.

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