However, the last-minute help with propane costs doesn’t come easy. Rutherford said she is asking people who apply for assistance to be patient.
“We have to contact Springfield by e-mail, then we have to wait for them to call us back for the approval,” Rutherford said. “It’s not just approved immediately. Things are flowing better than they were Monday, but we ask that people be patient.”
Rutherford said the help couldn’t have come at a better time for many people.
“We’ve had people who have already used everything they can get from us,” Rutherford said. “They used it in November and now they are out of propane. For those people, this is a blessing. I had an older lady in the office yesterday, who started crying when I told her we could help, she was totally out of propane.”
The winter heating assistance program through LIHEAP started in September 2013, and will run through May or until funds are depleted. The program provides financial assistance to eligible households to help pay a portion of their winter heating bills.
The first step in receiving energy assistance is to visit a local outreach site and make an appointment so an application can be made at a later date. Appointments can be made in Jefferson County at the Illinois Department of Human Services office at 333 Potomac Blvd., Mt. Vernon.
Eligibility is based on gross income for the 30 days prior to the date of application. Income guidelines are $1,436 for a one person household; $1,939 for a two person household; $2,441 for a three person household; and $2,944 for four person households. In addition, those applying must be the customer of record for the utility company.
Additional information about the program is available by calling 937-3581.