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Program Helps Vulnerable Ohioans Beat the Heat

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The HEAP Summer Crisis Program offers cooling assistance in the payment of an electric bill and/or an air conditioner or fan. (liz west/Flickr)
The HEAP Summer Crisis Program offers cooling assistance in the payment of an electric bill and/or an air conditioner or fan. (liz west/Flickr)
July 5, 2016

COLUMBUS, Ohio – It's been a sizzling start to summer, but some vulnerable Ohioans can get financial help to beat the heat.

The state's Summer Crisis Program through the Home Energy Assistance Program offers assistance in the payment of an electric bill and/or an air conditioner or fan.

To qualify, households must have a gross annual income at or below 175 percent of the federal poverty level.

Annette Hudson, director of emergency assistance for IMPACT Community Action in Columbus, says that's about $42,000 for a family of four, which can be hard to stretch when electric bills rise.

"So you can imagine, with that kind of income, any hiccup in your budget, any kind of emergency expense wreaks havoc, and we know that utility bills are some of those that fluctuate with the seasons," she points out.

Applicants must also have a qualifying medical condition or a person living in the home 60 years of age or older.

The program offers up to $300 in assistance for customers of a regulated utility and $500 for customers of unregulated utilities.

The Summer Crisis Program runs through Aug. 31.

Households that require the assistance for health reasons must provide documentation from a certified physician.

Hudson says the help is a critical need for some as hot, humid air can exacerbate some medical conditions and make breathing difficult.

"You may have people with an asthma condition that need to be inside,” she explains. “You have other medical conditions that require that the patient be kept at a regulated kind of temperature.”

Local community action agencies can assist with the applications, and also help determine if a household qualifies for another energy assistance program that can reduce utility bills.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH