Help available to pay winter heating bills
Assistance for low-income families
Saturday, November 13, 2010 3:59 AM
With cooler temperatures, residents are beginning to turn on the heat in their homes to keep warm. For some residents, turning up the temperature in the house can create a financial burden.
To help low-income families, several organizations in Indiana and Kentucky are available to help those in need of financial assistance on their heating or energy bills.
In Jefferson County, Ohio Valley Opportunities has a program to provide a one-time payment on the winter heating bills for households that qualify for assistance. To qualify, the household income must be at or below 150 percent of the government's poverty guidelines.
"We try to help them get over a rough spot," said Barbara Marion, executive director at OVO. "With the economy, it's tough. We've seen a rise in applications."
For a household of one, the person must make $1,353 a month or less or $16,245 a year or less. For a household of two people, the household must make $1,821 a month or less or $21,855 a year or less. For families of three, the household must make $2,288 a month or less or $27,465 a year or less. For families of four, the household must make $2,756 a month or less or $33,075 a year or less.
To receive assistance, the person will have to complete an application through OVO and provide proof of income, the energy bill and a landlord/rental affidavit or lease. For proof of income, the applicant must provide income documents for the past year. This includes employment, Temporary Aid to Needy Families, Social Security or disability, child support, alimony, self-employment, cash jobs, unemployment, veteran's disability or pension, pension funds, interest and royalties, insurance benefits and annuities, severance pay, rental income, strike benefits or black lung payments, statements and letters. Anyone who is 18 or older who has an income of zero must get a wage inquiry printout from the employment office and sign a form.
"We've been booked up until November," Marion said. "We are the first place people have to go before they can go to any other charitable organization for energy assistance."
To make an appointment, visit the Jefferson County OVO office at 425 Walnut St. behind the Salvation Army. The phone number is (800) 928-1232 or (812) 265-5858. The office is open from 8 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. Monday through Friday.
In Kentucky, residents living in Carroll and Trimble counties can continue submitting applications for energy assistance.
The guidelines for the gross monthly income - the amount before deductions have been taken out - are: family of one, $1,174 a month or less; family of two, $1,579 a month or less; family of four, $2,389 per month or less.
Residents must be responsible for home heating costs or pay heating costs as an undesignated portion of their rent. They must not have in excess of $2,000 in readily available resources or $3,000 if at least one person in the household is 60 or older. The amount may be $4,000 when the resources are being used for medical and living expenses for disabled residents.
The application submission process will be done alphabetically based on last name through Dec. 9, when applications from families with last names starting with X, Y and Z will be taken. On Dec. 10, the application day is open to any person, regardless of last name.
To complete an application, the person must have a copy of their most recent heating bill or verification from their landlord that the heating expenses are included in the rent. They also have to have proof of Social Security number or permanent resident card for each member in the household and a proof of all the members' income from the preceding month.
Becky Kemper, Carroll County Neighborhood Center manager, said the amount a person receives for the one-time energy assistance payment depends on the type of housing, the type of fuel and whether the person is in crisis.
On Jan. 4, 2011, Kentucky organizations will take applications from those in crisis. There is no specific day for last names and the applicant must be within four days of running out of fuel if the heat source is wood, coal, propane, fuel oil or kerosene; or if a disconnect or past-due notice has been received from the vendor.
The crisis benefits are limited to the amount necessary to relieve the crisis. Benefits may take form of fuel deliveries, service reconnection, blankets or sleeping bags, loan of space heaters and emergency shelter. Crisis relief will be provided within 48 hours, or 18 hours if it is an emergency. Households in a crisis that are at or above 75 percent of poverty level must pay a portion or co-payment of the minimum necessary to alleviate the crisis. Applicants who have their energy bills included in the rent must bring an eviction notice form the landlord in order to apply for crisis assistance.
To receive assistance in Carroll County, contact or stop by the Carroll County Neighborhood Center, 1302 Highland Ave. in Carrollton. The number is (502) 732-5253. The office will accept applications from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. The office is closed from noon to 1 p.m. for lunch.
To receive assistance in Trimble County, contact or stop by the Tri-County Community Action Agency, 3240 U.S. 421 N in Bedford. Their number is (502) 255-7514. The office accepts applications from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday.
All the energy assistance is first come, first served. Funding for energy assistance will be given to qualified applicants until the funding runs out. The money comes from the federal government.