One of the programs people turn to in the Scioto County area is Home Energy Assistance Program.
HEAP is a federally funded program designed to assist eligible low-income Ohioans with their winter heating bills.
The total household income of an applicant must be at or below 175 percent of the Federal Fiscal Year 2006 federal poverty guidelines.
“There are strict guidelines that need to be followed,” said Renee Ellis, executive director of United Scioto Senior Activities Inc. “For example, a household of one person, can't make more than $17,150, or let's say there are eight people living in a household, the maximum income goes up to $58,800.”
There are two ways the assistance is administered.
“If you use electricity or natural gas, the HEAP assistance will show up as a credit on your utility bill. If you heat with things like wood, propane or fuel oil, you will receive a voucher,” Ellis said.
Other programs within the HEAP framework include the emergency component.
“If you have only a 10-day supply of fuel or have received a shut-off notice, you can apply for the E-HEAP component through Community Action Organization.”
Another part of HEAP is the Percentage of Income Payment Plan (PIPP). PIPP is a special payment plan that requires eligible customers to pay a portion of their household income each month to maintain utility service.
PIPP protects customers from disconnection of service, as long as they follow the program's rules about monthly payments. However, the customer remains responsible for any unpaid balances on their bills.
One part of the PIPP program is that all gas and electric companies regulated by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio must offer that plan to their customers.
Applications are available at USSA located at 117 Market St., and require considerable information, such as the names of all of household members, their social security number, date of birth, income source, and total gross household income.
The application also requires rental information and a copy of the applicant's last fuel or heating bill.
Another program available is the Home Weatherization Program.
Anyone interested in learning more about HEAP may call USSA at (740) 354-6672 or for the E-HEAP program, CAO at (740) 354-7541.
FRANK LEWIS can be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 232.