Summer LIHEAP offers assistance to low-income families
CARES Act funds providing relief to local residents
By JOHN RECH
It’s hot, hot, hot. There is nothing like having the air conditioner breakdown just as the outdoor summer temperatures in the August furnace bear down. Governor Asa Hutchinson announced during a daily COVID update more utility assistance money for those qualifying for the need through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The new relief package even provided some assistance through Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) to repair the air conditioner.
Arkansas Energy Office Director Mitchell Simpson announced the specifics of the funding. The LIHEAP utility assistance crisis funding amounted to $6.97 million state-wide while the air conditioning program received $1.23 million.
“This, with the $8.2 million that we received through the federal CARES Act enables Arkansas to launch and enhance the LIHEAP program,” said Simpson.”These programs will assist low-income Arkansans who have accumulated larger-than-normal past due notices on their electric and natural gas bills or who have depleted their supply of winter fuel such a as propane, natural gas of even wood.”
The new aid enhanced limits in the supplemental crisis program.There had been a cap of $500 assistance. The new funds increased the limit to $1,500 per household. Qualified households became eligible to apply twice for a total of $1,500 (combined of the two applications) toward a crisis situation for cooling or heating. In the past, proof of a shut-off notice was required, but at this time, a past due bill will qualify. Families must meet the same income guidelines as the current LIHEAP summer program. Families who qualify can apply for this
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program in addition to the program that is currently open.
The summer cooling program aimed to help vulnerable low income families with electric bills. Under the air conditioning program qualifying households can ask to be referred to the weatherization department for services related to repair or replacement of window units. In addition to households being a LIHEAP applicant who has been approved for LIHEAP assistance through the current summer program, they must also meet criteria in order to participate in the AC program. Qualified applicants must below income, have an occupant aged 60 or up or a child under the age of five in the household, someone receiving disability benefits, or one with medically verified condition requiring an air conditioner.
“If that household has central air it could benefit from a cleaning or repair,” said Simpson. “If that repair is not possible without the guidelines of the program that household may qualify to receive a window air conditioner.”
Both programs opened July 27, and run through the remainder of the summer, closing on Sep. 21. Applications for Crittenden County residents were made available at the Crowley’s Ridge Development Council office at 310 Mid-Continent Building Plaza Suite 350, West Memphis, or by phoning (870) 400-4023 or (870) 253-3050.