Program officials say winter heating assistance is available

By Gary Scott on November 21, 2015 at 8:16am

Here’s a reminder that financial assistance for the heating bill this winter is available through a local agency.

Morgan-Cass-Scott Community Services administers the LIHEAP program, which stands for Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. Despite the state budget issues, MCS Director Dusty Douglas says there’s plenty of assistance available.

“Surprisingly enough right now. We’ve got some concerns internally with some budget issues that you and I have talked about in the past few months, but right now as far as this particular program, the demand has been so strong, particularly in Chicago and the collar counties, that we’re kind of beneficiaries of that and we have abundant funds,” says Douglas.

“Talking to the coordinator, I don’t think we foresee any kind of problems unless there’s just a deluge of people coming in. The program concludes in May, and we feel like we’ll be able to provide for everyone that comes in.”

Acceptance of winter heating LIHEAP applications began in October for those 60 and older. Douglas says starting next month, anyone who is income-eligible can apply. Emergency furnace funding is available as well.

Douglas notes the hope is that summer cooling assistance is available in 2016, but notes it wasn’t there this year.

“Unfortunately, a lot of that is tied into what happens with how bad the summers are, particularly in the City of Chicago, and things up there sometimes kind of triggers discussion at the state level to provide additional funding. As we remember, it wasn’t a terribly hot summer this past year, so those funds weren’t there, but it’s not to say they won’t be available again,” explains Douglas.

“Obviously, LIHEAP’s very important because it’s so difficult to heat houses in the wintertime. Hopefully, we’ll have a mild winter, but it seems like it’s more and more difficult to keep things heated each year.”

For more information, call MCS at 243-9404.