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Program helps families
beat heat, big bills

By Paul Huggins

Low-income residents have no reason to sit in a hot house in fear the air conditioning will run up the utility bill.

Community Action Partnership, which serves Morgan, Lawrence and Cullman counties, has money to pay those bills through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.

“We still have plenty of money available,” said Sue Stancil, director of general services.

Community Action receives $600,000 annually to help low-income families pay utility bills, both in the winter and summer. It has helped 1,100 families this summer in its three counties.

That’s not nearly as many as usual, Stancil said.

“There’s a lot of elderly people I know are not taking advantage of this, and that’s who it was set up for, people on fixed incomes,” she said. “I’m afraid when bills come out in September, these people will be overwhelmed.”

The amount a family receives depends on its income. The elderly and people with poor health, particularly a child age 5 or younger, can get double the amount of typical payments.

Some could qualify for as much as $360, Stancil said.

The program offers a one-time payment, and Community Action sends the check to the utility provider.

All the money allocated for 2007 must be used by Sept. 31. Unused money goes back to the federal government.

Applicants should call 355-7843 to schedule an appointment. Applicants should bring the utility bill, proof of income and a Social Security card for each member of the household. Section 8 and public housing residents should bring a copy of their lease to show a utility allowance.

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