The federal government is sending the state program that provides money to help low-income Iowans pay their heating bills 4.8 million dollars in emergency funds. Jerry McKim, the director of the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program or LIHEAP, says the money is less than he had hoped for.
McKim says the state received a little over nine million dollars in emergency funds last year, and while he says this is good news, it is “somewhat disappointing” as he was hoping to get closer to the nine million dollars this year. McKim says the need for help has increased this year.
He says so far for October, November and December, they requests for help are eight percent above last year, and last year was an all-time record. McKim says they have had 71,693 households that have received assistance thus far and that could reach 100,000 by the time the application period ends in April. Last year a record 95,234 people received help.
McKim says the amount of help given each person varies. McKim says the statewide average is about $650, but he says the payment system is based on a point system, where you get points based on your income and fuel type. He says the range of payments is between 400 and 900 dollars. McKim says while they had a record number of applicants last year, they also had a record amount of dollars with some 67-million initial dollars and an additional 9-million in emergency funds. He says the emergency funding that’s just been released should allow them to meet all requests.
McKim says as of now he is “pretty confident” no one will be turned away. It is a first-come, first-served system as long as the funds are available with the April 30th deadline to apply for help. McKim says there are local outreach offices in all 99 counties where you can apply for the LIHEAP funding.