Tuesday December 6, 2011
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Contact: Debbie Belt
Louisville Metro Government
Debbie Belt, 574-6587
Phil Miller, 574-1901
Low-Income Heating Assistance Program
faces possible budget cuts
Citizens urged to prepare by weatherizing, reducing energy use, budgeting
Federal funding for the Crisis Phase of the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) may be significantly reduced this heating season. As a result, many Louisville households that were helped by the program last year may not be able to receive assistance this winter. Louisville Metro Community Action Partnership (CAP) -- which administers the program locally -- is encouraging residents to take steps such as weatherizing their home, conserving energy and adjusting their budgets.
LIHEAP is a federally funded program that provides financial assistance to low income households, at or below 130% of the federal poverty guidelines, to help offset heating costs. LIHEAP funding for Kentucky flows through the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services which contracts with Community Action Agencies across the state. LIHEAP is divided into two phases – the Subsidy Phase which began November 7 and Crisis Phase due to begin January 4.
The Subsidy Phase received comparable funding as in previous years and will continue to operate through December 16. Income eligible residents of Jefferson County need only to bring their photo ID with their most rent heating bill, or verification from landlord stating heating expenses are included in rent, to one of the three CAP offices to make an appointment. To date, more than 7000 households have received subsidy assistance this season. Visit www.louisvilleky.gov/CAP or call 502.574.1157 for dates, times, and documentation required to apply.
The LIHEAP Crisis Phase, which begins Jan. 2012, may experience significant reductions in funding. Funding for the Crisis Phase was increased during the last two winters to provide additional assistance during the current economic recession, allowing a record number of Louisville residents to be assisted. This year’s level of funding is still uncertain but a substantial reduction is expected. The crisis component is designed to help residents experiencing a home heating crisis such as disconnection of their utility services or eviction if their utilities are included in their rent.
Community Action Kentucky currently plans to allocate approximately $6.4 million statewide for the 2012 crisis program compared to the total of $41 million allocated to the crisis component last year. This number could change if Congress increases current funding levels for LIHEAP, as has happened in previous years, or more clients take advantage of the subsidy component and funds are moved from the crisis component to the subsidy component.
To help Louisville residents prepare for potential cuts – especially households with vulnerable members such as the elderly or those with disabilities or small children – the following steps are recommended:
Take steps now to winterize your home using relatively inexpensive measures that can pay off with significant reductions in energy use, including sealing and covering windows with plastic and making other draft reductions around the home. For more information, contact Project Warm at 502.636.9276 or www.projectwarm.org which provides education and weatherization services to low income residents.
Residents may consider taking advantage of one of LG&E’s energy efficiency programs. Call the Energy Efficiency Program information line at 1.800.356.5467 or visit their website at www.lge-ku.com/ee to explore how to save energy and money with a home energy audit. Qualifying applicants may be eligible for additional assistance through LG&E’s WeCare program.
When possible, begin budgeting now so that more money can be set aside for energy needs. CAP is part of the Department of Community Services and Revitalization which coordinates the Family Economic Success network to help connect families with budgeting counseling and savings opportunities. Call Metro Call at 3-1-1 to find the Neighborhood Place nearest you to learn more about the Family Economic Success program.
Finally, another option to consider is the budget billing plans offered by LG&E. Budget billing plans, sometimes known as even-payment plans, average a customer's utility bills over a 12-month period and reduce seasonal fluctuations by spreading the cost of winter heating over the rest of the year. Contact LG&E at 502.589.1444 for more information about this program. Representatives are available Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Community Action Partnership has also been working with area agencies, such as the Community Ministries, the Metropolitan Housing Coalition, Affordable Energy and Winterhelp to help spread the word to clients.
For more information about CAP, the LIHEAP program and for a list of other Community Resources that offer assistance during the winter months, visit our website at www.louisvilleky.gov/cap or call CAP at 502.574.1157 (TDD available at Metro Call – 574.5000; or the Kentucky Association for Community Action (KACA) at 1.800.456.3452.