Cass County General Relief Coordinator warns about utility disconnects

News

September 19th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

This Saturday marks the first day of Fall, and Cass County General Relief Coordinator Teresa Kanning is warning persons who receive heating assistance (for electric, gas, propane or other heating sources), to make an effort to pay at least a portion of your bill from last year, or risk having your heat shut-off. Kanning says her office is starting to see clients come in with “Disconnect” notices, because they are behind on their utilities as they prepare to enter the LIHEAP, or Low Income Heat Assistance Program. She says the utilities are being adamant that clients be caught up in their bills before the October 1st start of LIHEAP.

Several people she says, have told her they are 60 days behind on their heating bills. Before you can apply for LIHEAP,  Kanning says you need to have certain information available. LIHEAP starts taking applications on October 1st at West Central Development. The program puts a moratorium on people have their utilities shut-off, from November 1st through April 1st, but if you didn’t make your payments last Winter, you’ll be shut-off.

She said they have some clients with bills from last Winter amounting to more than $1,000, but who haven’t made an effort to get caught up on those bills.  Kanning says she always tells her clients to make SOME payments all-year long, because LIHEAP doesn’t pay for the entire bill. It’s only an assistance program.

The Bureau of Energy Assistance administers the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). The federally-funded block grant is designed to aid qualifying households in the payment of a portion of their residential heating costs for the winter heating season. The program’s energy crisis intervention components are designed to provide immediate response to alleviate potentially life-threatening situations, and the client education component of the program provides funds for activities that encourage regular utility payments, promote energy awareness and encourage reduction of energy use through energy efficiency, client education and weatherization. For more information about LIHEAP, contact West Central Development Corporation in Atlantic, at 712-243-5421. They are located at 304 Chestnut Street, and their office hours are Monday through Friday, from 9-am to 3-p.m. Other WCDC offices are located in Shenandoah, Council Bluffs, Sidney, Harlan, Red Oak, Logan, Malvern, Onawa and Denison. Or, go to this link to find the assistance office in your area: www.dcaa.iowa.gov/app_sites/liheap_map.html