MT. VERNON — Help is available for people who need heating assistance, and additional help was released last week for those who use propane.
“We still have regular (low income home energy assistance program) funds available, and now we have more to help propane customers,” said Kim Rutherford of Crosswalk Community Action Agency. “We have lots of people who still need help and funds are available.”
Last week, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, which receives the LIHEAP funds for the state, increased the benefit amount for each eligible household using propane by $1,000.
“Due to the propane shortage and high prices, the state asked the federal government to release the rest of the program money,” Rutherford explained. “We don’t know yet how much our agency will get.”
The $1,000 additional funds is for propane customers only, Rutherford stressed.
“I know people are talking about how high the cost of fuel oil is, but this is for propane only,” she said. “Anyone who is approved for a direct vendor payment since September through last Friday will get a supplemental payment of $1,000. That will be taken care of in Springfield. Springfield will send a register to all the agencies who administer LIHEAP with a list of who those people are and we can make pledges to the propane companies if people need deliveries at this moment.”
Rutherford said there are people who are making applications for assistance who use propane at this time.
“They are making applications now and are at or below 20 percent,” Rutherford said. “They can get the DVP, emergency money ... and additional money based on their income, household size and type of heat. ... The new people to the program are getting the $1,000.”
Rutherford said, for example, if a household was eligible to receive $325 in energy assistance and they use propane to heat, they will be eligible for $1,325 in assistance. In addition, anyone who qualifies for emergency assistance who uses propane will not have to pay the $75 Good Faith Effort fee.