Federal funding will help families heat homes
FRANKFORT, KY – January 31, 2011 – (RealEstateRama) — Governor Steve Beshear today announced an additional $2.8 million in federal appropriations to be allocated to the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).
“We’ve encountered week after week of cold weather this season,” Gov. Beshear said. “This emergency funding will ensure that more families can apply for benefits and keep their homes warm.”
Kentucky’s allotment is part of $200 million in emergency LIHEAP funding announced Jan. 24 by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to help eligible low-income families meet their home energy assistance needs.
Kentucky’s cumulative amount from HHS this fiscal year, combined with carry-forward money from the prior year, is $64 million.
In Kentucky, the Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS) administers the LIHEAP program through a contract with Community Action Kentucky (CAK), which disburses benefits through Community Action Agencies (CAA) across the state. Every county has at least one staffed CAA office.
Gov. Beshear said he will authorize the immediate distribution of the funding to local CAAs as soon as it is released to the state.
LIHEAP’s first winter funding phase for all eligible families who need heating assistance ended in December 2010. The program’s crisis phase for families facing a home-heating emergency began on January 4 and ends March 31, 2011, or when funding runs out.
CHFS Secretary Janie Miller praised LIHEAP as a highly effective program.
“A warm home is essential during the winter months,” Secretary Miller said. “LIHEAP allows families on lower or fixed incomes to pay their higher utility bills. They don’t have to make a choice between heat and medicine or food.”
Emergency LIHEAP funding will be allocated to the local CAAs based upon each agency’s percentage of the statewide eligible population at or below 130 percent of the poverty level and their crisis expenditures last year.
Miller said CHFS and CAK are helping as many families as possible with the money. Last year, Kentucky served about 329,100 families through both winter phases.
Families that can most benefit from LIHEAP may include seniors, young children or people with disabilities, Miller said. Families may qualify regardless of whether they own or rent their homes.
LIHEAP is a short-term aid program available to clients at or below 130 percent of the federal poverty guidelines. For example, a family of four must have a monthly income of no more than $2,389.
Families applying at their CAAs during the crisis component must bring a past due or disconnect notice from their utility provider.
Having past due or disconnect notices are not the only criteria that make households eligible. If someone is within four days of running out of fuel and their primary heat source is propane, fuel oil, wood or kerosene; or if they have received an eviction notice for nonpayment of rent, and home heating cost is included as an undesignated portion of their rent, they may also qualify for assistance.
To learn more about other family assistance programs, log on to http://chfs.ky.gov/.