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Sparing KY’s Low-Income the Chill of Winter Heating Costs

November 1, 2010

FRANKFORT, Ky. - With Kentucky's unemployment rate still hovering around 10 percent, a Kentucky social service agency expects to help even more struggling families take the chill out of home heating costs. Applications for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) are now being accepted at Community Action offices in all 120 counties.

Dan McKenzie, energy programs director for Community Action Kentucky, says LIHEAP provided a subsidy, or one-time energy assistance, to more than 118,000 households last year.

"We serve several different fuel types. It's not only gas and electric. Here in Kentucky, we have many families who heat with propane, or it could be fuel oil, wood or coal. We help all of those people."

McKenzie says in addition to the subsidy phase of LIHEAP in November and December, the crisis component of LIHEAP operates from January until March to help families stave off utility disconnection or running out of fuel during the peak of the winter season.

"It gets to the place where people are having to make really severe choices. They've got to decide to heat, or to eat, or to get medicine or do some other very important piece of their life."

McKenzie says more than 211,000 households benefited from LIHEAP's crisis assistance last year. He adds that a new economic reality for many families is causing those who never needed assistance before to seek help.

"No matter what income level you may have had last month or last year, if you can't afford to heat your home, you have a crisis, and you need to get some help."

To qualify for home energy assistance, households must be at or below 130 percent of the federal poverty line. For a family of four, that means their gross income is less than $2,389 dollars a month.

More information about application and eligibility requirements can be found at www.communityactionky.org.


Renee Shaw, Public News Service - KY