Energy Assistance Funding Cut This Winter

3 years 5 months 3 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
loading

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
BRANSON, Mo. (AP) — Authorities have recovered two bodies and are searching for a third person after their vehicle was... More >>
1 hour ago May 28, 2017 May 28, 2017 Sunday, May 28 2017 Sunday, May 28, 2017 1:38:00 PM CDT in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Relatives of two of four people killed when a steam-filled tank weighing nearly 2,000 pounds (900... More >>
2 hours ago May 28, 2017 May 28, 2017 Sunday, May 28 2017 Sunday, May 28, 2017 1:33:00 PM CDT in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — St. Louis police say a man who barricaded himself inside a home repeatedly fired at officers... More >>
20 hours ago May 27, 2017 May 27, 2017 Saturday, May 27 2017 Saturday, May 27, 2017 6:54:00 PM CDT in News
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City, Missouri, police say they are searching for a man who shot two people,... More >>
20 hours ago May 27, 2017 May 27, 2017 Saturday, May 27 2017 Saturday, May 27, 2017 6:46:00 PM CDT in News
COLUMBIA - A new business pushes it’s clients to their limit and has them sweating bullets. Two former NFL... More >>
22 hours ago May 27, 2017 May 27, 2017 Saturday, May 27 2017 Saturday, May 27, 2017 5:06:00 PM CDT in Sports
COLUMBIA - A resettlement agency supporting refugees had a surplus in donations, so it decided to sell some of its... More >>
22 hours ago May 27, 2017 May 27, 2017 Saturday, May 27 2017 Saturday, May 27, 2017 4:47:00 PM CDT in News
As of 6:00 p.m. 23,491 Electric Cooperative member-consumers are without power As of 5:37 p.m. Saturday, Ameren reports that... More >>
23 hours ago May 27, 2017 May 27, 2017 Saturday, May 27 2017 Saturday, May 27, 2017 4:21:00 PM CDT in Top Stories
JEFFERSON CITY - Traditional Native American food, crafts and dancing can be found at the tenth annual "For the People"... More >>
23 hours ago May 27, 2017 May 27, 2017 Saturday, May 27 2017 Saturday, May 27, 2017 3:48:00 PM CDT in Top Stories
COLUMBIA - Two teens were arrested early Saturday morning in relation to an armed robbery Friday night. Columbia Police... More >>
23 hours ago May 27, 2017 May 27, 2017 Saturday, May 27 2017 Saturday, May 27, 2017 3:46:00 PM CDT in Top Stories
BOONE COUNTY - One person was extricated from a vehicle and taken to the hospital with serious injuries after a... More >>
1 day ago May 27, 2017 May 27, 2017 Saturday, May 27 2017 Saturday, May 27, 2017 2:53:00 PM CDT in Top Stories
COLUMBIA— The start of the ninth annual Pedaler’s Jamboree was held on Saturday. Nine years ago when the event... More >>
1 day ago May 27, 2017 May 27, 2017 Saturday, May 27 2017 Saturday, May 27, 2017 2:24:00 PM CDT in Continuous News
COLUMBIA - The 29th Annual Salute to Veterans Air Show is scheduled for Saturday, May 27, and Sunday, May 28... More >>
1 day ago May 27, 2017 May 27, 2017 Saturday, May 27 2017 Saturday, May 27, 2017 2:10:00 PM CDT in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Three people were taken to hospitals by emergency personnel following a three-car wreck Saturday morning. A... More >>
1 day ago May 27, 2017 May 27, 2017 Saturday, May 27 2017 Saturday, May 27, 2017 1:08:00 PM CDT in Top Stories
COLUMBIA – Public pools in Columbia opens for Memorial Day weekend, but they are still looking for more people to... More >>
1 day ago May 27, 2017 May 27, 2017 Saturday, May 27 2017 Saturday, May 27, 2017 11:29:00 AM CDT in News
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) — Two months after the idea was first introduced to leaders in Springfield, Missouri, the city's new... More >>
1 day ago May 27, 2017 May 27, 2017 Saturday, May 27 2017 Saturday, May 27, 2017 11:13:00 AM CDT in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — St. Louis police say a man who exchanged gunfire with officers during an hours-long standoff has... More >>
1 day ago May 27, 2017 May 27, 2017 Saturday, May 27 2017 Saturday, May 27, 2017 11:09:00 AM CDT in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — Lawmakers have passed a proposal in a special session that supporters hope will bring hundreds... More >>
1 day ago May 27, 2017 May 27, 2017 Saturday, May 27 2017 Saturday, May 27, 2017 5:13:00 AM CDT in News
JEFFERSON CITY – A father was sentenced in federal court Friday for threatening the attorney who represented one of his... More >>
1 day ago May 26, 2017 May 26, 2017 Friday, May 26 2017 Friday, May 26, 2017 8:04:00 PM CDT in Top Stories
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 77°
4pm 79°
5pm 80°
6pm 79°
7pm 78°

Select a station to view its upcoming schedule:

Coming Up Next

2:00p
PGA Tour Champions Golf
5:00p
KOMU 8 News @ 5
5:30p
NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt
1:30p
A Knight's Tale
4:00p
Wrong Turn at Tahoe
6:00p
A Thousand Words

Tonight's Schedule

7:00p
American Ninja Warrior
8:00p
American Ninja Warrior
6:00p
A Thousand Words
8:00p
Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
9:00p
KOMU 8 News @ Nine on The CW
9:30p
Seinfeld