Energy Assistance Funding Cut This Winter

2 years 2 months 1 week ago December 01, 2013 Dec 1, 2013 Sunday, December 01 2013 Sunday, December 01, 2013 10:53:00 PM CST in News
By: Paige Hornor, KOMU 8, Reporter

COLUMBIA - Missouri received nearly $3 million less than last year in energy assistance funds from the federal government.

The program, Low Income Home and Energy Assistance (LIHEAP), provides assistance to the elderly, disabled and poor on utility bills so they can keep their heat on during the winter.

Angela Hirsch is the Community Services Director for Central Missouri Community Action, which distributes LIHEAP funding for eight counties in mid-Missouri. She says she has already seen an increased demand in applications this winter.

"We have spent about $450,000 more at this point than we did this time last year," Hirsch said. "We have also served about 2,000 more households statewide since October first, which is when the program began for the elderly and the disabled."

Central Missouri Community Action helped 754 households and spent nearly $300,000 as of November 7th. Hirsch says that was almost their entire initial allotment for crisis assistance until she received the rest of the winter funds, which was $607,046.

"If we have a bad winter, or if fuel prices go up, fewer families will be able to access these funds and we will have more families in a crisis situation," Jessica Long, Community Action Marketing and Communications Manager, said.

In addition to cuts to program funding, there were administrative cuts so Hirsch has less staff working than previous years.

"This year, I have five people who are working the program and processing applications and working with families from eight counties," Hirsch said.

Hirsch says the process is slowed, but they are still meeting state obligations.

Many churches, private companies and local government entities have programs for energy assistance as well.

Columbia runs the Heat Energy and Light Program (HELP) and Citizens Assisting Seniors and Handicapped (CASH). These two programs provide $100 per month to someone who has difficulty paying their bill.

"It's capped at $100 per month per program, for CASH for HELP so if you were to get it for one month that is it for one calendar year." Andrea Waner, media spokesperson for Columbia Public Health and Human Services, said.

Donations fund both of those programs and Columbia residents can make a donation to either program when they pay their utility bill.

Waner says she has not seen a dramatic increase or decrease in people needing assistance this year. However, she says there's always an increased demand during winter and summer months.

Ameren provides energy assistance through another donation-based program, Dollar More. Customers can add a dollar to their bill to help families who need assistance paying bills. The Dollar More Program provides funds to about 4,000 families per year on electric and gas bills.

"Throughout the state of Missouri, there's never going to be enough money for the needy, so Dollar More has always been there to help fill the gap, one more pot of money helping out," Molly Martin, Ameren Missouri Supervisor, said.

Martin says if customers are having trouble paying their bills, they should call Ameren to see if they can change their payment plan.

When people do not make their payments, power companies can shut off the heating supply, unless it is below freezing.

Missouri's Cold Weather Rule prohibits companies from disconnecting heat when it's less than 32 degrees outside.

"If a family is already disconnected from their heating source, they do not need to be reconnected just because the temperature drops," Hirsch said.

And if temperatures rise, utility companies can discontinue service.

Hirsch says so far this year, she has not seen anyone lose their heating source who needed assistance.

"We won't serve as many families as we did last year. I can't tell you how many less we will serve. We won't be able to serve families as long with the winter season," Hirsch said.

Hirsch says you should still apply for LIHEAP, if you need help and to contact your utility company if you have questions.

You can donate to the Dollar More program online here or on your Ameren bill. Donations for the CASH and HELP programs can be made at the Columbia utility office and online.

For a complete list of energy assistance programs in Missouri, visit http://www.needhelppayingbills.com/html/missouri_heating_and_energy_bi.html.

 

More News

Grid
List
FERGUSON (AP) — Ferguson's mayor says city leaders warned U.S. Department of Justice negotiators last month that they couldn't guarantee... More >>
10 minutes ago February 12, 2016 Feb 12, 2016 Friday, February 12 2016 Friday, February 12, 2016 4:19:22 PM CST in News
COLUMBIA – Columbia Public Schools will recommend three individuals to fill critical vacancies within the school district to the Board... More >>
31 minutes ago February 12, 2016 Feb 12, 2016 Friday, February 12 2016 Friday, February 12, 2016 3:59:00 PM CST in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Funding would increase by $76 million for public schools if the budget proposed by the House Appropriations... More >>
55 minutes ago February 12, 2016 Feb 12, 2016 Friday, February 12 2016 Friday, February 12, 2016 3:35:00 PM CST in News
COLUMBIA - The Better Business Bureau recently announced it received 2,500 complaints regarding online dating services during 2015. Regional... More >>
1 hour ago February 12, 2016 Feb 12, 2016 Friday, February 12 2016 Friday, February 12, 2016 3:20:00 PM CST in News
JEFFERSON CITY – Sedalia man sentenced to seven years without parole for distributing methamphetamine. United States Attorney for the... More >>
1 hour ago February 12, 2016 Feb 12, 2016 Friday, February 12 2016 Friday, February 12, 2016 2:32:00 PM CST in News
COLUMBIA - An animal control officer in Boone County said she does not see animal torture or mutilation cases that... More >>
1 hour ago February 12, 2016 Feb 12, 2016 Friday, February 12 2016 Friday, February 12, 2016 2:31:18 PM CST in News
JEFFERSON CITY — Capital Region Medical Center and the Jefferson City Medical Group have teamed up for a new pain... More >>
4 hours ago February 12, 2016 Feb 12, 2016 Friday, February 12 2016 Friday, February 12, 2016 12:22:38 PM CST in News
SPRINGFIELD (AP) — A Springfield man has been charged with assaulting a woman on the Missouri State University campus and... More >>
4 hours ago February 12, 2016 Feb 12, 2016 Friday, February 12 2016 Friday, February 12, 2016 12:00:00 PM CST in News
GRANBY (AP) — Environmental officials say mine waste removal efforts are gearing up in southwest Missouri. Liz Hagenmaier, of... More >>
4 hours ago February 12, 2016 Feb 12, 2016 Friday, February 12 2016 Friday, February 12, 2016 11:53:00 AM CST in News
MORGAN COUNTY — A fatal crash on U.S. Highway 50 Thursday morning left a high school student dead with another... More >>
5 hours ago February 12, 2016 Feb 12, 2016 Friday, February 12 2016 Friday, February 12, 2016 11:01:56 AM CST in News
KANSAS CITY (AP) — A judge has denied a public vote on a proposed convention hotel in downtown Kansas City.... More >>
6 hours ago February 12, 2016 Feb 12, 2016 Friday, February 12 2016 Friday, February 12, 2016 10:24:00 AM CST in News
KANSAS CITY (AP) — Officials are trying to hammer out a deal to address competing water needs of south-central Kansas... More >>
6 hours ago February 12, 2016 Feb 12, 2016 Friday, February 12 2016 Friday, February 12, 2016 10:09:00 AM CST in News
COLUMBIA - A Stephens College senior was invited to the 2016 New York Fashion Week which began Thursday. The first... More >>
6 hours ago February 12, 2016 Feb 12, 2016 Friday, February 12 2016 Friday, February 12, 2016 9:52:00 AM CST in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — A man is dead after being shot, then dropped off at a St. Louis hospital. ... More >>
7 hours ago February 12, 2016 Feb 12, 2016 Friday, February 12 2016 Friday, February 12, 2016 9:08:06 AM CST in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — A historically black university in Missouri is celebrating the 150th anniversary of its founding soon after... More >>
8 hours ago February 12, 2016 Feb 12, 2016 Friday, February 12 2016 Friday, February 12, 2016 8:11:43 AM CST in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — Missouri's K-1 2 public schools would get about a $76 million increase in basic funding under... More >>
10 hours ago February 12, 2016 Feb 12, 2016 Friday, February 12 2016 Friday, February 12, 2016 5:33:00 AM CST in News
SPRINGFIELD (AP) — Police say that a Springfield maintenance worker who died after an accident at the city landfill was... More >>
10 hours ago February 12, 2016 Feb 12, 2016 Friday, February 12 2016 Friday, February 12, 2016 5:32:30 AM CST in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Living conditions in one public housing complex have a mother too worried to sleep through the night.... More >>
19 hours ago February 11, 2016 Feb 11, 2016 Thursday, February 11 2016 Thursday, February 11, 2016 8:53:00 PM CST in Target 8
Interactive Radar Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 34°
5pm 29°
6pm 26°
7pm 23°
8pm 20°

Select a station to view its upcoming schedule:

Coming Up Next

4:00 pm
Dr. Phil
5:00 pm
KOMU 8 News @ 5
5:30 pm
NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt
4:00 pm
King of the Hill
4:30 pm
The Cleveland Show
5:00 pm
American Dad!

Tonight's Schedule

7:00 pm
Caught On Camera with Nick Cannon
8:00 pm
Grimm
9:00 pm
Dateline NBC
7:00 pm
The Vampire Diaries
8:00 pm
The Originals
9:00 pm
KOMU 8 News @ Nine on The CW
9:30 pm
Seinfeld