Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Utility Assistance Made Easy

Mayor Joe Ford Makes Low Income Home Energy Assistance
Applications Easier to Receive and Submit

Due to the high demand for utility assistance, long lines have been forming for the past few weeks at the Shelby County Community Services Agency (CSA) office at Raleigh Springs Mall and the office at Winchester and Kirby Parkway. In some instances the lines have formed in the early morning hours, with people waiting for hours to apply for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).

“We want utility assistance applications to be available to any citizen and we are changing the way we process applications to be more responsive and available to the public,” said Mayor Joe Ford. “There is no longer a need to see a counselor at CSA or to spend hours waiting in line.”

Mayor Ford announced that utility assistance applications will be made available at the Hickory Ridge Mall Monday through Friday from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Citizens in need of utility assistance should come to the southwest entrance of the mall at any time during these hours. CSA staff members will distribute applications as well as receive completed applications. Completed applications for regular utility assistance will be processed within 10 days; applications for emergency assistance will be processed within 48 hours. Citizens will be mailed a letter after the application is processed.

“Many people believe that they must see a counselor in order to get help,” said Dottie Jones, Director of the Shelby County Division of Community Services. “In fact, we can process applications much faster if people will complete the paperwork and return it to us with the necessary documentation. It is much faster and simpler for our customers, and we are pleased to be able to distribute and receive applications at Hickory Ridge Mall.”

Jones stressed that the CSA offices at Raleigh Springs Mall and Kirby Parkway will not see clients in person. “We are asking the public not to line up at our locations because the staff will not see individual clients or process applications while clients wait. We are making the applications available at Hickory Ridge Mall in order to provide a safe environment for citizens and to make the process operate more smoothly.”

Applications and instructions for the utility assistance program are available here.

The mission of the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is to assist low income households, particularly those with the lowest incomes that pay a high proportion of household income for home energy, primarily in meeting their immediate home energy needs.

Eligibility is determined through a point system based on the household income, the number of people in the household. Senior citizens and disabled individuals receive additional points. Benefits range from $300.00 to $600.00 depending upon the total points for the household. Benefits are not paid to the customer but are instead applied directly to the customer’s utility account.

Applications for utility assistance are processed in two categories: regular assistance and emergency crisis assistance. Total gross income for a household must not exceeded 200% of the federal poverty income guidelines either program. Emergency crisis assistance is only available when a household has experienced an uncontrollable circumstance(s) during the ninety-day period prior to application, which has not allowed the payment of energy bills. This might include circumstances
such as:

− Household has an unanticipated medical or major household expenses
− Household wage earner has left the home within the past forty-five (45) days
− Significant loss of work hours

In addition to these or other crisis circumstances, the household must have one or more children under the age of six (6) in the home; and elderly member of the household (age 60 or above) or a disabled member of the household.

NOTE: A cut-off notice from the utility company does not constitute an emergency all by itself.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...