The director of the state program that provides money to help the poor pay their heating bills says the winter of 2001 is still plaguing thepocketbooks of many Iowans. Heating costs soared during that winter, and many found it difficult to pay their bills. Jerry McKim of the Low IncomeHeating and Energy Assistance Program says even though this past winter was relatively mild and heating bills were much smaller, many Iowans are still struggling to pay off their 2001 bills. McKim says there’s no doubt in his mind that there’s an affordability crisis that is historic. McKim points to the latest report from the state-regulated utilities, which shows over 5,000 Iowans had their utilities disconnected in June. McKim says to him, that’s a “shocking” number. The utilities say they have nearly $16 MILLION in past due accounts. McKim says just 12 percent of those past due households are qualified to receive low income heating assistance from the state. The state of Iowa received over $1 MILLION from the feds yesterday to help the poor pay their heating bills, but McKimm says they’ve not yet decided how to distribute it. In 2002, over 75,000 Iowa households qualified for help in paying their utility bills.
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