Energy Assistance Funding Cut This Winter

3 years 2 months 2 weeks 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
Embed Code Copied

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
COLUMBIA - Stress may seem like one of those things that we all talk about being under from time to... More >>
19 minutes ago February 20, 2017 Feb 20, 2017 Monday, February 20 2017 Monday, February 20, 2017 1:47:00 PM CST in News
ST. JOSEPH (AP) — Th e Missouri S tate Highway Patrol says a 27-year-old man was died after a police... More >>
52 minutes ago February 20, 2017 Feb 20, 2017 Monday, February 20 2017 Monday, February 20, 2017 1:13:43 PM CST in News
PLATTE CITY (AP) — A truck driver from Springfield was sentenced to four years in prison after pleading guilty in... More >>
1 hour ago February 20, 2017 Feb 20, 2017 Monday, February 20 2017 Monday, February 20, 2017 12:48:59 PM CST in News
COLUMBIA - MU Police have released a description of a man suspected of kissing one unwilling female and trying to... More >>
2 hours ago February 20, 2017 Feb 20, 2017 Monday, February 20 2017 Monday, February 20, 2017 11:08:00 AM CST in News
COLUMBIA - The Columbia City Council will look at what could turn into a Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, or PDMP,... More >>
19 hours ago February 19, 2017 Feb 19, 2017 Sunday, February 19 2017 Sunday, February 19, 2017 7:00:00 PM CST in News
CALLAWAY COUNTY - Two people were arrested after taking law enforcement on a high speed chase throughout mid-Missouri Sunday, according... More >>
19 hours ago February 19, 2017 Feb 19, 2017 Sunday, February 19 2017 Sunday, February 19, 2017 6:36:00 PM CST in Coverage From Callaway
KANSAS CITY (AP) — A group of homeowners raised money for a man who was arrested in their neighborhood after... More >>
20 hours ago February 19, 2017 Feb 19, 2017 Sunday, February 19 2017 Sunday, February 19, 2017 6:05:00 PM CST in News
OVERLAND - The Overland Police Department cancelled the Amber Alert for a 9-month-old boy Sunday. According to police, the... More >>
23 hours ago February 19, 2017 Feb 19, 2017 Sunday, February 19 2017 Sunday, February 19, 2017 2:10:00 PM CST in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens has started complaining about the coverage his administration receives, but the Republican... More >>
1 day ago February 19, 2017 Feb 19, 2017 Sunday, February 19 2017 Sunday, February 19, 2017 1:21:21 PM CST in News
COLUMBIA - Columbia saw one of its warmest weekends of the year so far with temperatures in the high 60s... More >>
1 day ago February 19, 2017 Feb 19, 2017 Sunday, February 19 2017 Sunday, February 19, 2017 12:53:00 PM CST in News
CALLAWAY COUNTY- One man died and another was seriously injured in an overnight crash in Callaway County Sunday. According... More >>
1 day ago February 19, 2017 Feb 19, 2017 Sunday, February 19 2017 Sunday, February 19, 2017 12:20:00 PM CST in News
BOONE COUNTY — The Boone County Fire Protection District responded to 12 natural cover fires on Saturday. The Columbia... More >>
1 day ago February 18, 2017 Feb 18, 2017 Saturday, February 18 2017 Saturday, February 18, 2017 8:28:00 PM CST in News
COLUMBIA - The Unitarian Universalist Church of Columbia (UUCC) and Missouri Faith Voices hosted a resistance training Saturday to educate... More >>
1 day ago February 18, 2017 Feb 18, 2017 Saturday, February 18 2017 Saturday, February 18, 2017 6:35:00 PM CST in News
BOONE COUNTY — Two people were taken into custody after leading police on a car chase through multiple counties Saturday... More >>
1 day ago February 18, 2017 Feb 18, 2017 Saturday, February 18 2017 Saturday, February 18, 2017 5:16:00 PM CST in News
KANSAS CITY (AP) — An online tool has disappeared for people to find out whether they are buying puppies from... More >>
1 day ago February 18, 2017 Feb 18, 2017 Saturday, February 18 2017 Saturday, February 18, 2017 4:46:00 PM CST in News
KANSAS CITY (AP) — A government report shows the number of farms in Missouri fell last year while the remaining... More >>
1 day ago February 18, 2017 Feb 18, 2017 Saturday, February 18 2017 Saturday, February 18, 2017 4:41:00 PM CST in News
COLUMBIA — The Acting Company based out of New York has crossed the country and is now in Columbia to... More >>
1 day ago February 18, 2017 Feb 18, 2017 Saturday, February 18 2017 Saturday, February 18, 2017 3:03:00 PM CST in News
JEFFERSON CITY — The Special Olympics Missouri Regional Basketball Tournament returned to Jefferson City for the third year Saturday. ... More >>
1 day ago February 18, 2017 Feb 18, 2017 Saturday, February 18 2017 Saturday, February 18, 2017 2:48:00 PM CST in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 71°
2pm 73°
3pm 74°
4pm 70°
5pm 68°

Select a station to view its upcoming schedule:

Coming Up Next

1:00p
Days of Our Lives
2:00p
The Dr. Oz Show
3:00p
Dr. Phil
1:00p
Maury
2:00p
Judge Alex
2:30p
Judge Alex

Tonight's Schedule

7:00p
American Ninja Warrior
9:00p
Timeless
7:00p
Supergirl
8:00p
Jane the Virgin
9:00p
KOMU 8 News @ Nine on The CW
9:30p
Seinfeld