PAINTSVILLE, Ky. (WYMT) - The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is underway for this year, but officials say they are facing a unique problem.
They are taking applications, but the federal government still has not released the money.
LIHEAP is designed to help people stay warm affordably.
"Everyone is struggling, and it seems like the utility costs are rising but the income isn't," said Jennifer VanHoose with the Big Sandy Area Community Action Program (BSACAP).
Once people apply they usually have assistance by the next day, but now officials across the commonwealth are worried.
"This year we've got a little snag in the program, and we did not find out until about 4:15 on Friday that the federal government has not released the money to the state yet," said BSACAP Executive Director Mike Howell.
Kentucky is supposed to receive nearly $26 million.
Howell says more than 3,000 people pre-registered in the Big Sandy area. Regular registration began Monday, but they are having to tell all those people they do not know when their assistance will arrive.
"I'd like to see it definitely by the end of this week, but we've got our fingers crossed," said Howell.
Officials say they want people to remember they should still pay their utility bills until the funding comes in even if it is going to be a couple weeks so that they do not get cut off.
"The longer the delay is, the longer it's going to be for us to get funding out to the vendors and get these people taken care of," said Howell.
They say the sooner, the better.
"It's just a very hard time right now. People are struggling severely," said VanHoose.
Officials say in more than three decades this has never been an issue, and they hope it never is again.
They say people should still apply. Once they get the funds, they will process those applications right away.