PACE accepting applications for energy assistance

Friday, November 10, 2017

The beginning of November marked the ability for low-income families to apply for energy assistance. This year, pace has simplified guidelines so that more households can qualify for the program.

On Oct. 31, Pace Community Action Agency, Inc. announced that it would begin accepting applications for energy assistance. The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program is a state and federally-funded energy assistance program that helps low-income households pay for their primary heat source with a one-time benefit. Qualifying households must have a combined gross income for the past three months at or below 150 percent of the Office of Management and Budget (OBM) poverty guidelines. This guidelines would be $4,523 for a household of one; $6,090 for a household of two; $7,658 for a household of three; $9,225 for a household of four; $10,793 for a household of five and $11,568 for a household of six, for example.

Interested households must complete a process that, in addition to the application listing household members’ birth-dates and social security cards, Photo ID for the applicant, gross income for household members over the age of 18 (past three months worth, and most recent pay stub for those employed showing year-to-date gross wages); electric and heating bills; and proof of homeownership such as a deed or mortgage statement. Utility bills no longer have to be in the name of a household member as in past years, and households with rent includes utilities now qualify for assistance. If receiving social security, submit a bank statement if direct-deposited or a 2017 award letter or printout from the Social Security Office. Renters who wish to apply must have their landlord complete a Landlord Affidavit.

If a household’s utilities have been disconnected, they must been seen by a Specialist to determine eligibility, considering additional costs needed to connect service or prevent disconnect of services. Appointments with a Specialist can be scheduled by contacting one’s local office. If not disconnected, download an application from the agency website at www.pacecaa.rog or ask the local office to mail a copy of the application.

The PACE press release expresses that many times, low-income households must choose between paying their utility bill or buying food for their family.

“The Energy Assistance Program helps those that are most vulnerable in defraying the high cost of heating their homes in the cold winter months,” said Dr. Bertha Proctor, Chief Executive Officer.

The amount of assistance is based on a points system not dependent on the amount of utility bills. Points are based on the amount of household income, type of home, at-risk category and heat source. Households can receive up to 16 points in assistance with a value of $25 per point toward the expense of the household’s primary heat source.

New this year, families can earn additional points valued at up to $50 for paying their heat and electric bills on time.

The hope is that this will encourage customers to continue to pay their bills each month,” said Laughlin.

Clients applying for the assistance program will receive Energy Education sessions, a component of the program meant to teach customers how to decrease their energy bills with more efficient practices.

In the 2016-2017 period, 2,936 households applied for energy assistance and eligible households received more than $1,440,000 total in benefits to their utility accounts. PACE provided Energy Education Counseling to 1,659 individuals and distributed 86 window air conditioner units to qualifying households.

For more information on PACE Community Action Agency and their Energy Assistance Program, visit the local office in Linton, located at 11 Northwest 7th Street or call 812-699-4429. The office is open during the hours of 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. from Wednesday to Friday with the exception of 12-1 p.m. For assistance outside the normal hours, contact the main office at 812-882-7927, extension 2.

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