Energy assistance hard to come by in several Missouri counties

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COLUMBIA - Central Missouri Community Action has run out of funds for energy assistance this summer.

The nonprofit organization in Columbia is one of many agencies that receive money from the state's Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. Information and Referral Specialist Colita Harvey said she feels the state is doing all it can to address the issue.

"I believe the state is doing a lot, however, it's just that the poverty rate is growing," Harvey said. "As far as if the state can do more, I don't know what the answer is besides just keep educating the community so they can get their bills down to where they can afford it."

She said the organization received $305,777 from the state through its Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, and this money assisted 1,547 families in the eight counties.

Energy and Housing Manager Lisa Goldschmidt also said the state is doing its job.

"Really the state has done a lot more," Goldschmidt said. "They've dedicated a portion of their Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program funding to weatherization services, so that allows us to have more money to be able to go out and do work on these homes that are struggling." 

Harvey said although no energy funds for the summer session are available, people have other options to receive help.

"It all depends on what county they come from, since we service eight counties," Harvey said. "We refer them to their local resources. In Boone County, it's very limited. Certain places like the health department and some of the local churches is what we've been telling families."

Harvey said the organization is also referring families within their agency to apply for weatherization because it will help cut the costs of cooling significantly.

"Even though they may not be thinking about weatherizing their homes now, it will come handy in the winter." 

Goldschmidt said tips on how to make your home cooler and more energy-efficient are on the Central Missouri Community Action website.