Utility Assistance On Hold

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COLUMBIA - The Central Missouri Community Action center ran out of money for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and because of recent government budget cuts, it can no longer take walk-ins. People seeking energy assistance now have to wait until June 1st to get help.

Energy coordinator Melody Rodriguez says she gets as many as 300 calls a day from people who have or are on the verge of disconnection notices.

"I have had to turn my ringer off and CMCA disconnected my voicemail," Rodriguez said. "There's just nothing I can do."

There are two types of assistance CMCA offers: a one-time benefit that is solely based on household size, income, age and disability.  If a customer has already received a one-time benefit he or she can apply for a crisis intervention program that awards $800 to avoid a shutoff. Recipients must have an income of no more than 125% of the federal poverty level.

The federal government cut state funding for programs such as this one. Rodriguez says LIHEAP is lobbying to stop the cutbacks because of the amount of people who need help from the program. She is asking people to go to friendsofCMCA.org and help raise awareness on this issue. For a list of services CMCA offers, visit http://www.showmeaction.org/