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KY Program Takes the Chill Out of Heating Bills

November 2, 2009

FRANKFORT, Ky. - It can make the difference between heating a home in Kentucky, and not being able to afford a home at all. The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP, helps thousands of residents pay their energy bills each year, and applications are being accepted for the 2009-2010 heating season starting today.

Darrell Shouse, executive director of the Middle Kentucky Community Action Partnership, says that for a family of four to qualify, gross monthly income has to be less than 2389 dollars.

"Electric bills and fuel oil bills and everything else has just really skyrocketed in the last few years, so basically this really helps them a lot to try to get through the winter, because without this they could very easily cut into their money that they're going to need for food and shelter."

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced recently that LIHEAP programs across the country are receiving 2.6 billion dollars through the end of the year, until final 2010 appropriations are adopted. LIHEAP is available in each of Kentucky's 120 counties and can help pay for almost any heating source: electric, fuel oil, gas, wood or coal. It helped approximately 240,000 low-income families pay more than 31 million dollars in heating bills in the 2006-2007 heating season.

Shouse says the reason LIHEAP can be applied to any home is a formula that takes different heating sources into consideration.

"There's a predetermined rate based on that, so you might get so much tonnage of coal, or so many cords of wood, or a certain dollar amount paid toward your utility bill."

Shouse says LIHEAP works in two phases; the subsidy phase in November and December, during which time any eligible household gets assistance. Then comes the crisis phase, which can run into March and April.

"The crisis program is kind of like whatever money's left over, and these people will be able to come back in again into the crisis program, so actually you can get help twice."

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced recently that LIHEAP programs across the country are receiving 2.6 billion dollars through the end of the year, until final 2010 appropriations are adopted. LIHEAP is available in each of Kentucky's 120 counties and can help pay for almost any heating source: electric, fuel oil, gas, wood or coal. It helped approximately 240,000 low-income families pay more than 31 million dollars in heating bills in the 2006-2007 heating season.

Tom Joseph/Bill de Armond, Public News Service - KY