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Ohio Cooling Program Gets a Jump-Start on Summer Heat

May 31, 2012

COLUMBUS, Ohio - A program which helps low-income seniors and Ohioans with medical conditions stay cool during the hot summer months is getting a head start this year.

Community agencies will take applications for the "HEAP" Summer Crisis Program starting Friday, one month earlier than usual.

Michele Lucas, community services director for Harcatus Tri-County Community Action in New Philadelphia, says the program now also can offer up to $250 for the purchase of an air conditioner or fan, or to help pay an electric bill.

"We can make a payment on one of their electric bills during the months of June, July and August, just to give them that extra boost that might be necessary, especially if they are running their air conditioner. It has a tendency to make your electric bills a little bit higher."

Lucas says the Summer Crisis Program has become a crucial tool for many Ohioans suffering through the heat and a poor economic climate. She says those who apply are going through a variety of financial troubles and just need a little help.

"Maybe a home foreclosure, they're having problems making their mortgage payment, they're having trouble making rent - it doesn't matter. If we can help out with a utility bill, maybe making those payments will be a little bit easier."

Phone calls for applications already are pouring in at agencies across the state, says Lucas, who asks residents to be patient. At the same time, she says, for those who need help, it's no time to be proud.

"As with any time that they are seeking assistance, this is not a handout. This is not welfare. This comes from your tax dollars."

Also new this year, the program will assist income-eligible households facing a disconnect notice on their service. Lucas says they were able to expand the program for summer thanks to funding left over after a mild winter. Applications will be taken Aug. 31 at local community agencies.

For more information, call the HEAP Hotline at 1-800-282-0880.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH