Cooling assistance may not be available this summer

By: Kendall Downing Email
By: Kendall Downing Email

The hot temperatures are hitting early this year. That's a cause for concern for community action agencies, who are facing tight budgets.

Last year, folks lined up for cooling assistance at KCEOC in Knox County.

Already this year, they are getting about twenty calls a day.

"Elderly people, people with children who have asthmatic problems, those that are ill," said Jennifer Smith, with KCEOC.

Smith said officials at KCEOC are concerned because money may not be available to hand out.

"The cooling programs we've had in the past are not typical. We typically do not have cooling programs," said Smith.

Last summer, KCEOC helped more than 500 people pay their summer utility bills.

For the agency, it's impossible to plan for such a program, since their overall funding still remains uncertain.

"When we get notified, it's usually just a couple days notice. And we have little time to prepare. We do everything we can to let the public know," said Smith.

"They're not planning this early in the year to start using their air conditioning," said Shelby Carter, of Middlesboro.

Cranking down that thermostat may cost more for folks who have trouble paying their bills anyway.

"We can't plan on having those funds at this time," said Smith.

Officials said this is the time for the community to step up.

They are looking for donations of fans and air conditioners since the agency does not have the funds right now to provide them.

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