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Halloween Fright: First Heating Bills of the Season for Oregonians

October 12, 2007

Portland, OR – Oregon's weather is turning cold early and, with predictions for high heating costs this year, low-income residents can expect an unpleasant surprise when the first utility bills arrive around Halloween. While there is energy assistance available for low-income seniors, people with disabilities, and families, Jim Abrahamson with Community Action Directors of Oregon says the funding is stretched very thin.

"429,000 Oregon households are qualified to receive low-income bill payment assistance. On a given year, about one in four households that are qualified for the assistance actually receive it."

Abrahamson says if your dwelling isn't warm, there are more severe consequences than just being chilly.

"You can have health issues. Studies show kids do worse in school. For folks that are elderly or have other types of health problems, not having a warm place to stay can be a serious hazard."

Abrahamson says there's a little extra help this year. The legislature approved an additional $5 million in assistance that becomes available in January. Oregon is also set to receive an additional $1.3 million for emergency heating assistance from the federal government.

Dondrea Warner/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - OR