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Cool Summer for Ohio's Summer Crisis Program

August 3, 2009

COLUMBUS, Ohio - It was the coolest July in Ohio in a quarter-century, but that doesn't mean the dog days of summer aren't around the corner. However, when the temperatures rise, there is help available for qualified residents to keep cool and safe. The Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) provides assistance for low-income families that either have a member 60 years or older or have special health needs. Janet Cesner, assistance office chief for the Office of Community Services, Ohio Department of Development, says the help can be money or material.

"They can receive a maximum benefit up to 175 dollars, and that includes either bill-payment assistance or an air conditioner, or a fan. It's not required that a household have gotten a disconnect notice to receive the assistance."

So far, more than 16,000 applications have been approved, and Cesner says they've spent about half the money allocated.

The HEAP Summer Crisis Program started several years ago, after a heat wave killed a number of elderly people in Cincinnati. The executive director of Ohio Partners for Affordable Energy, Dave Rhinebolt, says programs like this are important, because keeping cool in the summer heat is a life or death matter.

"The dangers of warm weather are as great as or greater than the dangers of cold weather. I think in July we dodged a bullet and I hope we dodge another one in August."

Ohio is one of only a few cold weather states that also provides cooling assistance during the summer months.

The program started July 1 and runs through August 31.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH