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Beshear authorizes funding for federal heating crisis program

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FRANKFORT, Ky. – Gov. Steve Beshear announced the immediate distribution of $9.5 million in additional federal appropriations for Kentucky’s Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.

 “The availability of home heating assistance is critical at this time of the year,” Gov. Beshear said. “More funding means more Kentucky families can apply for assistance to stay warm during the colder months.”

 The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently released additional funding to help eligible low-income families meet their home energy needs – bringing the total available funds since Oct. 1, 2011 to $2.6 billion.  Kentucky’s total funding for the fiscal year is $46.4 million.

 The Cabinet for Health and Family Services administers the LIHEAP program in Kentucky through a contract with Community Action Kentucky, which disburses benefits through Community Action Agencies across the state.

 Every county has at least one staffed CAA office, according to the cabinet. Beshear immediately made the additional funds available to local CAAs once his administration received notice of the funds for heating assistance.

 LIHEAP’s first winter funding phase, for all eligible families who need heating assistance, ended in December. The program’s crisis phase, for families facing a home-heating emergency, began Jan. 4 and ends March 31 or when funding runs out.

CHFS Secretary Janie Miller said the additional funding will infuse needed assistance to low-income families across the state. “When energy usage increases during winter’s harsher weeks, it can be a struggle for families to keep up with the costs,” she said. “With this funding, we can reach those households that need emergency assistance to help keep warm this winter.”

Miller said CHFS and CAK are helping as many families as possible with the money. Last year, Kentucky served about 171,218 unduplicated families through both winter phases.   

Families that can most benefit from LIHEAP may include seniors, young children or people with disabilities, Miller said.

LIHEAP is a short-term aid program available to clients at or below 130 percent of the federal poverty guidelines. For example, a family of four must have a monthly income of no more than $2,422. Families applying at their CAAs during the crisis component must bring a past due or disconnect notice from their utility provider.

In addition, if an individual or family is within four days of running out of fuel, they may also be eligible for assistance if their primary heat source is propane, fuel oil, wood or kerosene. This provision also applies if they have received an eviction notice for nonpayment of rent and home heating cost is included as an undesignated portion of their rent,

For more information about applying for LIHEAP, visit www.communityactionky.org or call 800-456-3452 to find a local CAA. To learn more about other family assistance programs, log on to http://chfs.ky.gov/.