Health and Family Services Cabinet
Governor Fletcher Announces $7 Million More in Energy Assistance Funds This Year
FRANKFORT, Ky. (Jan. 29, 2007) – Governor Ernie Fletcher has announced that the state’s energy assistance fund has $7 million more in available funds this year than last year to help Kentuckians in need of assistance with heating bills.
The state’s Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is a short-term aid program that operates its first phase -- subsidy – in November and December and is available to clients at or below 130 percent of the federal poverty guidelines.
“With this significant funding, we can help thousands of families heat their homes this winter,” said Governor Fletcher. “Every family should have a warm place to live.”
The Kentucky Association for Community Action (KACA) administers LIHEAP benefits through its network of 23 community action agencies (CAAs) under a contract with the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS). Every county has at least one CAA office.
Many families avoided a heating crisis by seeking help during LIHEAP’s subsidy phase at the end of 2006. During the two-month subsidy period, assistance went to about 101,400 Kentucky families — some of whom may still be paying last year’s high utility bills.
In the second phase – crisis – another qualification is added to the income standards. Eligible clients must be within four days of exhausting fuel or have received a disconnect notice from their utility company. The crisis phase began Monday, Jan. 8, and ends March 31 or until the available funds are exhausted. Families may apply at their county community action offices.
Kentucky families facing immediate cutoff of their utilities may qualify for assistance for heating their homes this winter.
“These benefits make such a difference for families trying to keep warm,” said Tom Emberton, CHFS’ undersecretary for Children and Family Services. “The need for assistance continues to steadily grow, and this funding will ensure that hundreds of Kentuckians can avoid a heating crisis in the coming colder months.”
Full funding for the program comes from the U.S. Department for Health and Human Services (HHS). Kentucky’s share of the $2 billion federal budget is $26.7 million.
Kentucky’s LIHEAP budget for the 2007 fiscal year totals $37,154,182, about $7 million more than was paid in benefits last year. In 2006, the state paid out $31 million in LIHEAP funds.
Since the subsidy phase ended, about $20.5 million remains for families needing crisis assistance.
In the crisis assistance phase, qualifying clients may receive up to $250 in cumulative aid for gas and electricity. Bulk fuel assistance will vary depending on need. About 121,891 households were helped during the crisis phase last year.
Assistance may take the form of utility payment, service reconnection, blankets, space heaters on loan or deliveries of fuel like firewood, coal or propane. Relief is provided within 48 hours, or 18 hours in an emergency.
Bruce Brown, executive director of the Lake Cumberland Community Action Agency, said he can’t say enough good things about LIHEAP.
“It helps every facet of the community, but it is especially important to our senior citizens,” he said. “Many of them will forego their food, their heat, their basic needs to buy their medicines. We can’t let them go without heat.
“If it weren’t for LIHEAP, some of them would be very cold.”
Brown said staff at his 10-county region’s network of senior citizens centers spreads the word about LIHEAP funding to older Kentuckians.
Historically, Brown said, Lake Cumberland has spent more in LIHEAP funding than every other Kentucky region but Jefferson.
Brown said that during this year’s subsidy phase, Lake Cumberland paid just more than $1 million in benefits to 10,027 households.
To request LIHEAP funding, applicants must provide the following items:
• Proof of income for all household members for the previous month.
• Social Security numbers for all household members.
• The most recent heating bill or proof that heat is included in the rent.
• A disconnect or past-due notice from a utility, or, for applicants whose rent includes heat, an eviction notice from the landlord.
Eligibility is based on household size and gross income. For example, the maximum monthly income for a family of four is $2,167.
According to the Governor’s Office of Energy Policy, current consumer retail fuel prices are about the same as last year. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is forecasting a warmer than normal winter for most of Kentucky.
For more information about LIHEAP or a list of CAAs, log on to http://www.kaca.org/ or call the Kentucky Association for Community Action at (800) 456-3452. Operators there cannot take applications over the phone; they can only direct callers to their local community action agencies.
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