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“The Heat is On” for 118,000 in KY - Thanks to a Little Help

January 26, 2009

Frankfort, KY – "The heat is on" -- and that's good news for the 118,000 Kentucky families who have received help from the Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) this winter to cover their heating bills. Many have never applied for this aid before.

Applications from first-timers are up 43 percent statewide, according to Community Action Kentucky Executive Director Kip Bowmar.

"Unemployment is rising, and so many other daily household costs are going up. That's why we've seen more people coming in who have never needed, or asked for, assistance before."

Florence Tandy, executive director of the Northern Kentucky Community Action Alliance, says in addition to helping families make a dent in winter heating bills, the Alliance is trying to cobble together money to offer more of a hand up. As a result, she hopes, these families will have a better chance of staying on top of their utility expenses next year.

"We're using public and private money both, so we can help families in a deeper way: an extra basket of food, job training, or weatherizing a home."

Congress doubled the amount of federal money available for heating expense assistance this season. Bowmar expects to stretch these funds to help 260,000 families in Kentucky by the end of March.

LIHEAP assistance is based on a sliding scale according to income. Applications may be submitted at community action agency offices throughout the state.

Deborah Smith/Deb Courson, Public News Service - KY