Heating assistance available

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PIKEVILLE – With winter weather comes higher utility bills.

Big Sandy Community Action Group (BSCAG) is once more helping residents in this area decrease winter heating costs.

“We helped approximately 7,000 residents, of Pike, Floyd, Johnson, Martin and Magoffin counties with assistance during Phase 1 of the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) during the past three months,” Executive Director Mike Howell, said.

With colder temperatures on the way over the next two months, Howell predicts his group will aide and assist as many people during phase 2.

LIHEAP Phase 2 is currently taking applications for those who meet the criteria.

“Those needing assistance with their heating bills are reminded they must apply in the county which they reside,” he said.

Howell said the Winter Care Energy Fund program, which just wrapped up in December, was funded by corporate contributions from utility companies, as well as by private individuals and those in the business community.

“The monies distributed from the fund are intended to supplement the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program) to help low-income families meet their winter heating needs,” Howell stressed.

The program is administered across much of the Commonwealth by the Community Action Council.

Howell said these funds are to be used as a “last resort.”

“Those applying cannot have liquid resources in excess of $1,500,” he said. “However, if resources are being used for living expenses due to a catastrophic illness the amount can range as much as $4,000.”

He said that no funding is given directly to any of the approved applicants.

“Payments must be made directly to the utility or fuel vendor on the applicant’s behalf,” he added.

The maximum assistance that may be provided to each eligible applicant household is $300 per assistance period.

“Applicants must have proof of past due/disconnect notice if natural gas or electric is the heat source of the households,” he added.

Those families needing help in the region are asked to provide the following information:

Names and Social Security numbers of all household members

Most recent heating bill or verification that heating expenses are included in the rent

Proof of all household income from the preceding month.

For more details, call 606-789-3641.

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