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Federal funding set aside for summer cooling assistance in Kentucky

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By The Staff

FRANKFORT, Ky. – Governor Steve Beshear announced today that $4 million in federal funding will be made available beginning Monday, July 12, for summer cooling assistance through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), administered by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services.

    LIHEAP services are provided locally by the 23 Community Action Agencies through a partnership between the Department for Community Based Services (DCBS) and Community Action Kentucky.

    “Already this summer we have experienced extremely hot temperatures across the state, which can cause serious health problems for vulnerable citizens, including those who may not be able to adequately cool their homes,” said Gov. Beshear. “These resources will help protect Kentuckians during these dangerous temperatures.”

    The emergency funding is being provided to assist low-income families and the elderly who have the burden of increased energy costs because of the extreme heat experienced over the past few weeks.

    LIHEAP is a federal block grant program that provides states with annual funding to operate home energy assistance programs for low-income households. While LIHEAP funds are generally dedicated to winter heating needs, to the extent available funding and supplies allow, during periods of extreme or prolonged heat waves, states may elect to direct funds to heat relief.

    In addition to helping pay energy bills for low-income families and the elderly, some Community Action Agencies may also choose to use LIHEAP funds to provide air conditioners and fans to the elderly, disabled and to households with children younger than 6 years old.

    The number of households seeking energy assistance reached record numbers for the third year in a row. This past year approximately 8.8 million low-income families nationally relied on LIHEAP to assist with the costs of heating and/or cooling their homes.

    Individuals in Kentucky who want to determine if they qualify for assistance should contact the local Community Action Agency in their area.

    Eligible households may receive a one-time payment to the household’s cooling (electric) provider. The eligibility requirements are:

•    Income must be at or below 130 percent of the federal poverty level;

•    Pay home-cooling costs for which they are responsible either by direct payment or as an undesignated portion of their rent;

•    Have liquid resources at or below $2,000 except when a household member has a catastrophic illness, in which case applicants may have as much as $4,000 in liquid assets if those assets are used for medical and living expenses.

•    A household with a member age 60 or over or with a disabled member who has a liquid resource limit at or below $3,000.

    Based on local availability, air conditioners may be provided to households that include vulnerable adults or children.    

    To be eligible for an air conditioner, the household must meet the eligibility requirements listed above, and the household must not have access to an air conditioner, and meet one of the following requirements:

•    Have a member with a health condition or disability that requires cooling to prevent further deterioration as verified by a physician’s statement;

•    Have a member who is 65 years or older; or

•    Have a member who is younger than 6.

    “We encourage all families who believe they may qualify for assistance to contact their local Community Action Agency,” said DCBS Commissioner Patricia R. Wilson.

    Individuals can call 1 (800) 456-3452 or visit the Community Action Kentucky website to find a local agency. Information about applying for the assistance will be available beginning July 12.