The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

February 15, 2013

Home heat assistance available through March

Star Beacon

ASHTABULA —  There is still $400,000 in available utility assistance funds and six weeks to apply for home heating help, said Jeffrey Scribben, Ashtabula County Community Action director of housing and energy

ACCAA administers the Home Energy Assistance Program — Winter Crisis Program. The WCP program provides a one-time payment per heating season for gas or electric utilities or toward the delivery of wood, propane, fuel oil or kerosene to households when a customer’s gas or electric service has been disconnected; a customer has received a final disconnect notice or the customer has less than a 25 percent supply of bulk fuel.

Scribben said the agency usually has some funds by this time of the year, but with just six more weeks left for the assistance program, ACCAA still has $400,000 of its $1 million heating help budget to allocate.

The poverty income level for HEAP is 200 percent of the national income poverty guidelines, Scribben said.

“There is plenty of money still available at this point, and I think we have helped more people than ever this year,” he said. “I think it has to do with the economy in general. There are a lot of poverty stricken people in Ashtabula County, that’s for sure, and we are here to help them.”

Scribben said help with a heating bill, whether it be electric, gas, oil, or another source, can be the small break that can make a big difference for a struggling family.

“Just that one month of help could make a big difference for them,” he said. “Especially if they are in a bulk fuel situation, which is an all-at-once expense that can be hard to overcome.”

Customers will be seen by appointment on an basis at the Ashtabula County Job Source, 2247 Lake Ave., Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Walk-in sessions are available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Walk-in slots are filled on a first come, first served basis.

The heat assistance program runs through the end of March.

“If for some reason the person needing assistance is physically unable to come to this location, we can do home visits,” he said.

Scheduled appointments can be made by calling (866) 223-1471.

ACCAA will also take appointments at Country Neighbor, 39 South Maple St., Orwell. To make an appointment for HEAP at Country Neighbor, call 437-6311.

Once an appointment is made, any disconnection will be suspended as long as the customer submits the account number for the utility company.

The necessary documentation required for the application interview includes photo identification of the individual applying for the program, Social Security cards for each household member 2-years-old and older; a copy of each page of the current utility bill for both the gas and electric , showing the disconnect notice, the last payment receipt from the bulk fuel provider showing the address and account number; verification of income for every household member over the age of 18 for the past 90 days; if renting, provide the landlord’s name, address, phone number and monthly rent amount; proof of disability if permanently or totally disabled; and proof of co-payment, if necessary.