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Help for Ohioans Struggling to Afford Winter Warmth

Community action agencies say Ohio's HEAP Winter Crisis Program is a crucial support for lower-income Ohioans in need of help to heat their homes. (Katrina S/Pixabay)
Community action agencies say Ohio's HEAP Winter Crisis Program is a crucial support for lower-income Ohioans in need of help to heat their homes. (Katrina S/Pixabay)
December 11, 2017

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Cold winter weather has finally arrived in Ohio, and community action agencies say they're ready to help people who are struggling to keep their homes warm.

The HEAP Winter Crisis Program offers one-time heating assistance to eligible households when utilities have been or could be disconnected, or households have less than a 10-day supply of bulk fuel.

WSOS Community Action is among the dozens of agencies that can help people sign up.

Joyce McCauley-Benner, a WSOS basic needs specialist, says the assistance is a crucial support for lower-income Ohioans.

"When you live on a fixed income, your budget doesn't have the room to withstand the cost of energy as it's going up and down, not to mention it relates to the health and well-being of people,” she states. “Heat is necessary for the safety and health of our communities."

Eligible households must have annual incomes at or below 175 percent of the federal poverty guidelines, which means about $43,000 for a family of four.

The program runs through March 31 of next year.

So far, 31,000 households have received assistance. Last winter, more than 130,000 were served.

The Ohio Development Services Agency operates the Winter Crisis Program, and spokeswoman Penny Martin says applicants need a face-to-face interview with a local provider.

"We do encourage people to give them a call to find out the availability for appointments and also, to find out the information of what they'll need to bring to their appointment," she states.

McCauley-Benner says the Winter Crisis Program can also assist with fuel tank replacement, fuel tank testing and furnace repair.

"That's really helped a lot of people out, and what I love about that program is, it's also a long-term fix instead of a short-term fix,” she states. “Because once the furnace is working properly, they can maintain the bills, typically."

Year-round utility assistance is also available through the Percentage of Income Payment Plan program. It requires regulated utilities to accept payments based on a percentage of a customer's income.

Information is available online at energyhelp.ohio.gov.


Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH