Winter heating options available

The cold winter months are coming and heating bills are rising. For many Scioto County families, winter heating bills can be a burden, especially with the holidays approaching.

For these families, the Scioto County Community Action Organization’s Winter Crisis Program offered through HEAP can help. The Winter Crisis Program is administered by Community Action agencies throughout Ohio and provides assistance once per heating season to eligible low-income households that are disconnected, threatened with disconnection, or have less than a 10-day supply of bulk fuel. The program will start taking applications Nov. 1 through March 31, 2017.

In order to qualify for the Winter Crisis Program, applicants must qualify for the Home Energy Assistance Program. The Winter Crisis Program is available on a once per season basis for customers who have been disconnected or received a shut-off notice or who have less than a 10-day supply of bulk fuel. The amount of the benefit depends on what type of fuel is used.

HEAP is a federally funded program administered by the Ohio Development Services Agency’s Office of Community Assistance (OCA). It is designed to help eligible low-income Ohioans meet the high costs of home heating. Those eligible can get a one-time HEAP benefit, which is dependent on federal funding levels, and determined by how many people live in the household, total household income, and the primary heating source. In most cases, the one-time benefit will be a credit applied to the energy bill or paid to the fuel vendor. HEAP applicants must be at or below 175 percent of the federal poverty guidelines. The annual household income for a family of four would be below $43,050. A single person must earn less than $21,105.

Scioto County CAO can also assist with winter warmth through the Home Weatherization Assistance Program (HWAP). HWAP is a program that reduces low-income households’ energy use through a variety of services including attic, wall and basement insulation; blower-door-guided air leakage reduction; heating system repairs or replacements; and health and safety testing and inspections. To qualify for HWAP, a family of four would have to make less than $49,200, the Ohio Development Services Agency explains.

Additional options for meeting the demands of winter heating are also available.

“Residents in Scioto County also have the option of enrolling in a longer-term plan for regulated utilities, such as Columbia Gas and American Electric Power, that allows them to pay a percentage of their income rather than high bills they cannot afford,” a release from Scioto County CAO started. “This program is known as Percentage of Income Payment Plan or PIPP Plus. To be eligible for PIPP Plus, customers must have a household income at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty guidelines and be a customer of a regulated gas or electric company. For example, a four-person household must earn less than $36,900 annually to be eligible.”

To apply for the Winter Crisis Program, applicants must bring the following documents to a face-to-face interview at Community Action Organization of Scioto County:

1. Income documentation for all household members for the past three months.

2. Social Security Cards for all household members.

3. Proof of citizenship.

4. Electric Bill.

5. Proof of main heating source.

6. Documentation of co-payment, if required.

7. If applicable, proof of permanent disability.

8. If a household is claiming zero or no income, customers may be required to provide an IRS transcript and documentation of how the household is being supported and how expenses/bills are being met.

Home Visits are available for homebound elderly or disabled customers. For more information on these programs or to schedule an appointment, please call the Scioto County Community Action HEAP Office at 740-351-1184.

Reach Nikki Blankenship at 740-353-3101 ext. 1931.