By KANDACE MCCOY
MT. VERNON — Jefferson County residents who need energy assistance may begin making appointments on Monday through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.
Though the LIHEAP winter program began in September to help eligible households pay a portion of their winter heating bills, regular households may start making appointments next week, according to Crosswalk Community Action Agency, which administers the funding through the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.
LIHEAP Coordinator Kim Rutherford stated last month approximately $3 million had been received to assist qualified applicants with their heating bills. Eligibility is based on gross income for the 30 days prior to the date of application.
“I think there are people out there who don’t know about the LIHEAP program and don’t know how to go get help,” Rutherford said. “Some may think, ‘I won’t qualify.’ Look at the guidelines and if you meet them, you qualify.”
Rutherford also said it doesn’t matter if qualified individuals are current in paying their bills, as the focus of the program is to help those in need.
The LIHEAP winter program runs Sept. 1 through May 31, 2010, or “until the money runs out,” Rutherford said, adding that she anticipated helping about 7,000 applicants in the three-county area through the program.
Income guidelines are: $1,354 for a one person household, $1,821 for a two person household, $2,289 for a three person household and $2,756 for a four person household. The first two months of the program — September and October — are set aside as a priority period for the income eligible elderly aged 60 and older, and disabled who are drawing disability income.
Appointments will start being distributed on Monday on a first-come, first-served basis.
In addition, any eligible household that is disconnected from their utility or who is at or below 25 percent on a delivered fuel and can’t get a delivery on their own, may qualify for the Emergency/Re-Connection assistance. Emergency/Re-Connection applications will start Oct. 1.
Questions may be directed to the Crosswalk main office at 937-3581. Please do not call the Department of Employment Security offices.
By KANDACE MCCOY
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