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More Iowa Families Facing a Winter Without Heat

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 By Dick Layman/Eric Mack, Contact
September 13, 2007

Des Moines, IA - Temperatures will soon be dropping, putting thousands of Iowans who are currently living in homes without heat in danger. More than 27,000 Iowa families have had their power disconnected since March and over half still cannot afford the reconnection fees.

Jerry Mckim with the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program says his office is unable to reconnect Iowa's most needy families -- even after the winter moratorium, which ended last March, is reinstated. With no sign of help on the way from Congress, Mckim says state lawmakers need to step up.

"It's time for the state to take a serious look at the affordability of energy for thousands of vulnerable Iowans."

Mckim says his phone has been ringing all summer with desperate calls from Iowans worried about their upcoming winter heating bills, or whether they'll be able to reconnect to have heat at all.

"The elderly, disabled and households with young children are really at risk for serious health consequences because they are not able to afford their energy."

Mckim adds he's seen many situations in which families are paying up to 25 percent of their income on energy, when economists estimate a family's total energy expenditures should not exceed eight percent of their monthly take-home pay.

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