The Times Journal & Russell County News
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Heating help available ... but hurry
In Nov. 13-19 Issue

There were 10,197 households served last year in this area by the LIHEAP, or Low Income home Energy Assistance Program, said Lisa Mann.

Mann, who administers the program at the Lake Cumberland Community Action Agency, said there has been more money approved for the program this year and they will likely be able to help more this year.

The $75 million additional will go to all the community action agencies in the state for division amongst the counties.

The money helps qualified recipients with the purchase of home heating fuel or with ensuring that electric or gas services to homes aren't discontinued.

But in order take part in the program people must go to the second floor of the courthouse and apply.

Dawn Brockman said there had been about 30 people in first thing Monday morning.

She warned that there are several things applicants must bring with them, without exception. Those items are a most recent heating bill, Social Security or Permanent Resident Card numbers for every person living in the home and proof of the income for the previous month for every person living in the home.

Mann explained that the income proof was often the stumbling block for those on government assistance. Those who are on direct deposit are to bring in the Award Letter that was sent them at the beginning of the year.

She said if they don't have it they will have to request a copy from the Social Security Administration.

But do come in, she stressed. "People, even if they don't need the help now should still apply now while the funds are available."

Mann said the program is in two phases, the first now is a subsidy for families' heating expenses and the second begins in January and addresses immediate needs for help to keep utilities from being shut off or to fill empty oil or propane tanks.

Last year there was very little money left to help with the second program because so many signed up for the subsidy.

With the increased stresses in the economy and possible increases in heating costs the is again a possibility even with the increased funding.

"Even if they aren't behind now people need to come in and apply," Mann said. Having the help now could prevent them from getting behind on those bills, and prevent an emergency situation.

There is a schedule for one people can stop in a sign up. Those with last names starting with the first two letters of the alphabet were to go in last week. Those with C as the first letter of their last name were due in the first part of this week, with D and E due the 13th of this month. Those with last names beginning with F and G should go in on the 17th while those with H last names have the 18the and 19th.

Those with last names beginning with I or J should sign up on Nov. 20; K and L on the 24th; M on the 25th and the first of Dec. Anyone with last names beginning with N,O or P should go in on the 2nd; Q and R on the 3rd; S on the 4th and 8th; T on the 9th; U,V and W on the 10th; and the 11th X,Y and Z.

With the increase in funds came an increase in how much money a family can receive in assistance.

"LIHEAP is a wonderful program that provides a vital service for Kentucky families in need," said Gov. Beshear. "With the news that we'll be receiving more funding than we had initially anticipated, even more Kentuckians will benefit, meaning more Kentuckians will stay warm this winter."

According to the governor's off ice the increase in federal funding will enable Kentucky to increase the benefit level for both the subsidy and crisis programs. During the subsidy program, which began Nov. 3 and will run through Dec. 12, eligible households will receive assistance in purchasing heating fuel.  

The 40 percent increase in subsidy benefits will more closely approximate the cost of a deliverable load of bulk fuels.

"With winter on its way, making sure Kentuckians keep warm is vital," Kentucky Congressman Ben Chandler said.  "This Congress has made a special commitment to Low-Income Heating Assistance which I strongly supported.  I am pleased Kentucky will benefit from this important program so our citizens can remain healthy this winter."  

The crisis component, available from Jan. 5 until March 31, 2009 or until funds are expended, provides eligible households assistance with remedying service discontinuation and/or a lack of fuel. The maximum crisis benefit allowance for electricity and natural gas will be increased from $250 to $400, which will bring that benefit level more in line with the benefit available for bulk fuel.

"Because of the increase in funding, more Kentucky families will be helped this winter," said CHFS Secretary Janie Miller. "The increase in the level of benefits people can receive means that families will be better able to afford the rising cost of fuel for their homes."

For more information on the program in general call 800-456-3452 or to schedule an appointment if you missed your day, call locally 343-4565.

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The Times Journal is a weekly newspaper issued on Thursdays. It was first published on October 13, 1949, by Andrew J. and Terry Norfleet.
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Russell County News is a weekly newspaper issued on Saturdays, and is mailed free to every address in Russell County, Ky. It was first published on February 1, 1913.
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