Our View: LIHEAP helps families in crisis

Temperatures are still pretty mild right now, but soon enough they will be dropping below freezing. When that happens, heating bills will begin to rise for everyone.

Cold weather does not discriminate in whom it affects, but it’s a lot harder for those living in poverty to deal with the effects.

Many more people are struggling to pay their utility bills now — a possible leftover effect from the Great Recession in 2008. The economy as a whole has bounced back since that crash 11 years ago, but it’s never really gotten better for our poorest neighbors.

Community agencies that help low-income families afford their utility bills are getting more and more requests for assistance.

One source of help is the state’s Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). Community Action Kentucky, the umbrella group for the state’s 23 Community Action agencies, runs LIHEAP, along with U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services provides funding for the program through a grant.

LIHEAP will soon begin its application process for energy subsidies this winter. It’s incredibly important to get the word out so everyone who is in need knows when and how to apply for help.

LIHEAP provides subsidies to help cover heating costs in the winter based on the size of each household, monthly income and type of fuel used for heating. A household of four can qualify if their gross monthly income is at or less than $2,790; it’s less for smaller households and more for larger ones. We’ll share information on when and where to apply for the subsidies at the end of this editorial.

LIHEAP also provides “crisis” funding in emergency situations for as long as there are remaining funds to use. Applications for crisis funding can be made from Jan. 6 through March 31, as long as there’s still money available.

Beyond LIHEAP, there are many community-minded organizations that help those living in poverty when LIHEAP isn’t enough. If you are someone fortunate enough that you don’t have to worry about picking between a warm home and dinner, or a warm home and your prescription medicines, please consider donating to these groups.

LIHEAP applications are being accepted from Nov. 4 to Dec. 13 this year, and which day you apply depends on your last name. The applications are being taken in alphabetical order on the following days: Nov. 4 — A; Nov. 6 and 7 — B; Nov. 8 — C; Nov. 12 — D and E; Nov. 13 — F; Nov. 14 — G; Nov. 18 and 19 — H; Nov. 20 — I and J; Nov. 21 — K; Nov. 22 — L; Nov. 25 and 26 — M; Dec. 2 — N; Dec. 3 — O and P; Dec. 4 — Q and R; Dec. 5 and 9 — S; Dec. 10 — T; Dec. 11 — U, V and W; and Dec. 12 — X, Y and Z.

In Clark County, the application office is at 32 Meadow St., Winchester; and the phone number is (859) 744-3235.

Editorials represent the opinion of the newspaper’s editorial board. The board is comprised of publisher Michael Caldwell and Bluegrass Newsmedia editors Whitney Leggett and Ben Kleppinger. To inquire about a meeting with the board, contact Caldwell at 759-0095.