Governor Beshear Announces Energy Assistance for Colder Months

FRANKFORT, KY – January 8, 2010 – (RealEstateRama) — Governor Steve Beshear today announced that Kentucky families who need help paying for heat during winter’s coldest months can apply now for assistance from the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), funded by the U.S. Department for Health and Human Services (HHS).

“Now is the time to ensure that Kentucky families stay warm during this cold season,” Gov. Beshear said at the Louisville announcement. “A warm home for the winter isn’t a benefit – it is a necessity, and with LIHEAP, many families who need help can receive it.”

Last fall, HHS released more than $2.6 billion for states’ LIHEAP, which helps families pay their energy bills, particularly during the very cold and hottest months.

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 Community Action Agency office.

Kentucky’s has $66.6 million in available LIHEAP funding this year, including a $57 million award for this fiscal year and $9 million left over from last year’s funding.

Last year, Kentucky spent approximately $61 million in LIHEAP funding and served nearly 300,000 families through both phases. Cabinet staff expects to serve about the same number or more this year.

LIHEAP’s first funding phase, for all eligible families who need heating assistance, ended last month. However, the program’s crisis phase, for families facing a home-heating emergency, began on Jan. 4, 2010.

Metro Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson said low-income families are especially vulnerable to higher costs when their energy use increases in the winter.

“LIHEAP funding has helped hundreds of Louisville families through the season’s start,” he said. “With the colder weather coming to the Commonwealth, it’s reassuring to know families facing financial emergencies can access this crisis funding.”

CHFS Secretary Janie Miller said she is grateful the federal government recognizes the importance of providing a basic resource like energy assistance.

“Crisis mode specifically helps families who can’t pay their bills during the harshest part of the season,” she said. “If you meet income requirements and your bill is past due or your services are about to be disconnected, money is readily available to you.”

Miller said the eligible households that can benefit most – seniors, the disabled and families with young children — are encouraged to take advantage of LIHEAP assistance.

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.

The crisis phase, for families in a home heating emergency, ends March 31, 2010 or when funds have been exhausted.

Families applying at their CAAs during the crisis component must bring a past due or disconnect notice from their utility provider.

For more information about applying for LIHEAP, visit http://chfs.ky.gov/dcbs/dfs/LIHEAP.htm or www.communityactionky.org or call (800) 456-3452 to find a local Community Action Agency

Contact:
Kerri Richardson
Jill Midkiff
502-564-2611

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