The forecast this week dips into the freezing range across Iowa, but as residents consider turning on the furnace, many are still struggling with last winter’s heat bills. Jerry McKim, executive director of the state’s Low Income Heat and Energy Assistance program, says some can start signing up now for this year’s LIHEAP program, to get help paying the power bills.

Any household that has a person living in it who’s over 60 years of age or disabled can apply now for energy assistance, and the rest of the state’s low-income households can start signing up November first. McKim can’t say yet how much his agency will have to hand out to those who qualify and sign up. The federal government’s currently operating without a permanent budget for the coming year, but he says “all signs point to not a good year.”

Last winter LIHEAP had 52-Million dollars to help the low-income pay heat bills, but right now McKim says it looks like he’ll have at least fifteen-Million dollars less than that amount for this winter. He says last winter, with heating-fuel prices soaring, a record number of people fell behind on their bills and got disconnected when winter ended.

From April through August of this year, McKim says 30-thousand homes had their power shut off for nonpayment of bills, and as winter approaches there are still more than 130-thousand households with no service. Nearly 90-thousand low-income Iowans qualified for Low Income Heat and Energy Assistance grants last winter.

The average grant was about four-hundred-50 dollars. At the state website, surf to “human rights,” Community agencies, and the Bureau of Energy Assistance to get a map showing your local agency and where to apply.

Related web sites:
Energy Assistance Bureau