As days grow colder, thousands of low-income Missourians may find the cost of turning on the heat is beyond what their limited budgets can handle. The Missouri Department of Social Services is reminding Missourians in need that the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) can help them pay their heating bills this fall and winter.
“There are thousands of Missourians who struggle to pay monthly bills and when cold weather hits, heating their home may be something they simply can’t afford,” said Brian Kinkade, Missouri Department of Social Services director. “We do not want anyone to go without heat or take unsafe measures to stay warm during cold winter months.”
LIHEAP offers help paying heating bills through March. Payment amounts can range from $45 to $450, and are based on the household size, income and type of fuel used for home heating. Payments are generally made directly to the utility company.
In fiscal year 2015, almost 143,000 Missouri households received LIHEAP assistance. In Texas County 1,520 households received a total of $482,305 worth of assistance in the winter and 211 households received $38,787 in the summer.
Individuals might be eligible for the program if they are a U.S. citizen or legally admitted for permanent residence, responsible for paying home heating costs, have an income at or below 135 percent of the poverty level ($27,120 annually for a family of three) and have $3,000 or less in bank accounts, retirement accounts, or investments.
If a person qualifies for energy assistance, they may also qualify for additional help through the Energy Crisis Intervention Program (ECIP) that makes payments to energy providers for households who have their energy service terminated or received a threat of disconnection, or who are running short of purchased fuel (propane).
The figure is based on the amount to restore or continue services, which can be up to $800 for the winter program. Eligible households facing a cooling crisis during summer months could be eligible for up to $300.
LIHEAP applications are now being accepted. Anyone interested in applying can download the application with instructions and information on the nearest agency location online at http://dss.mo.gov/fsd/liheap.htm.
For more information, log onto www.dss.mo.gov or call Ozark Action Inc. in West Plains at 417-256-6147.