State May Help Pay Heating Bills

1 decade 3 years 11 months ago Wednesday, January 11 2006 Jan 11, 2006 Wednesday, January 11, 2006 2:22:44 PM CST January 11, 2006 in News

According to Democratic Sen. Pat Dougherty of St. Louis, the cost to heat your home is going through the roof.

"This year, for the winter, it's expected to go up, you know, $200-$300 more," he said, "and yet, individuals' pocketbooks, their income, is not going up."

Dougherty is one of many lawmakers who support Gov. Blunt's plan to fund the Utilicare program for $6.1 million.

The elderly, disabled adults, and households with incomes less than 125% of the national poverty level are eligible. A household can receive up to $600 a year.

"It is the maximum that we are allowed to appropriate under the statutes in emergency supplemental appropriation," Dougherty explained, "to provide the maximum amount that we can to help low-income Missourians, senior and disabled adults deal with very high utility costs."

And, John Jones of Community Action Partnership says, thousands of people need help.

"We anticipate that there will be another 32,000 individuals who will seek funding from the Lihead program and the Utilicare program as a result of this."

Dougherty says the governor also needs to look ahead.

"I think our efforts right now have to make sure that we get that done quickly, if that's all that he is going to approve, then let's get that done quickly," Dougherty added. "And, before we get out of this session, determine there is a way to make sure that there is money ready for the next session, the next season, the next winter."

If the House and Senate pass the proposal, money will be available immediately to needy households.

Gov. Blunt says that would be the first time lawmakers funded the Utilicare program since 2001. He says the state has never fully funded the program.

Contact the Missouri Association for Community Action if you think you qualify for assistance.

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