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HEAP offers help for summer electric bills

The summer heat can be uncomfortable for many during the summer months, but for some, it can be dangerous. With the price for keeping cooler being a hardship for many, the Ohio Department of Development is offering help to those who need it most.

The Home Energy Assistance Program’s Summer Crisis Program can provide a one-time payment of up to $175 in assistance on cooling costs for low-income households with an elderly person, 60 or older, living in the home or with a person whose health condition needs cooling assistance verified by a statement from a physician.

The program can also supply air conditioning units to those in need.

The program begins July 1 and continues through Aug. 31. The Ironton-Lawrence County Community Action Organization will begin scheduling appointments to apply for HEAP on June 27.

“The Summer Crisis Program assists those who have the toughest time beating the heat and are vulnerable to heat stroke or other heat related problems due to their age or medical conditions,” said Melissa Stanford, Interim Director of the Community Development Division, in a press release. “This important funding ensures their health and safety during the summer.”

Barb Christian, local CAO HEAP coordinator, said many residents benefit from the program.

“Last year we processed almost 1,000 requests for just June and August,” Christian said. “We stay busy, that’s for sure.”

To schedule an appointment, people can call the CAO at 740-532-3534 beginning June 27. By pressing 1 for HEAP, the 24-hour automated line can be accessed.

Christian said having enough funding to cover everyone in need of assistance hasn’t been a problem in the past. This year, they have received $129,000 to disperse for the program.

“In the past it hasn’t been a problem to request more funds,” Christian said. But she added that with today’s economy, the Summer Crisis Program almost didn’t happen at all this year, but funding became available just in time.

More information on the HEAP Summer Crisis Program can be found at www.energyhelp.ohio.gov.