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Demand high for LIHEAP program; people having to wait just to apply

Published: Jan. 14, 2021 at 2:44 PM EST|Updated: 22 hours ago
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ESTILL COUNTY, Ky. (WKYT) - The pandemic, and resulting job losses, have left a lot of people who have never had to ask for help, reaching out.

That’s been evident for the people at Kentucky River Foothills.

“From people, who really didn’t have to rely so much on outside assistance for themselves, to them having to search elsewhere to help themselves help stay heated and their lights on and stuff like that,” said Tierra Murphy with Kentucky River Foothills.

They oversee the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP, for Estill, Madison, Clark and Powell counties. The federal program pays for heating bills for people in the most extreme circumstances.

“If you want electric, you have to have a disconnect notice, if you have pre-paid it has to be 10 days or less. Natural gas you have to have a disconnect notice. Propane you have to be under 20% on your tank,” Murphy said.

Previously, participants had to make less than 130% of the federal poverty level, but that number was bumped up to 150%. And, right now, demand is so high people are having to wait, just to apply.

“Pretty heavy, pretty hard,” Murphy said. “We are booked back to back on appointments and we try to do as many as we can and get them out there so we can help as many people as we can that we can really get in.”

The LIHEAP program helps around 150,000 Kentucky families pay their heating bills each winter.

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