Community action agencies brace for heating assistance cuts

By: Kendall Downing Email
By: Kendall Downing Email

Federal funding cuts are being felt right here in Kentucky. Last year the state received $57 million for the heating assistance program LIHEAP. This year that's being cut to $26 million.

KCEOC in Knox County is telling those who come to them for winter heating assistance that the money just will not be there this year.

For their organization, that's an almost one million dollar cut.

The cold rain may be the first sign of a cold winter.

"Just my Social Security - I barely do make it so the LIHEAP helps," said Gracie Eversole.

Eversole said she depends on LIHEAP funding to pay her bills during the cold winter months.

"Time I pay my gas bill and my electric bill - I wouldn't have anything to live on," said Eversole.

"That's when the greatest hardships are going on," said Jennifer Smith, KCEOC Vice-President of Program Operations.

Smith said winter is the organization's busiest time. But this year many will have to do without.

"Concern as to what the families are going to do without our help," said Smith.

Last year KCEOC handed out almost one million dollars to families - whose utilities were about to be turned off.

This year they will not be getting that money from the government to hand out.

"That's what we are here to do, is help these people. And having to turn them away at the worst time of the year is a huge concern for everybody here at KCEOC," said Smith.

Smith said the agency is encouraging people to plan now for the winter and set aside whatever money they can.

"I just have to live the way I have to. I've done it before," said Eversole.

This as many people just hope they'll be able to make it through.

Officials at KCEOC said funding will still be available for the LIHEAP subsidy program. That helps offset utility costs by crediting a family's utility account each month.

The agency is pre-qualifying senior citizens now for what little crisis funding they may receive in January.

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