Utility bill assistance available

Staff report

SIDNEY — The Community Action and Ohio Development Services Agency will help income-eligible Ohioans stay cool during the hot summer months.

The Home Energy Assistance Summer Crisis Program provides eligible Ohioans assistance paying an electric bill or assistance paying for central air conditioning repairs. The program runs until Aug. 31.

“Working with Community Action we want to reduce the risk of heat related illness during July and August. These two months can be extremely hot in Ohio and that can take a toll on older Ohioans and Ohioans with breathing conditions,” said David Goodman, director of the Ohio Development Services Agency.

In 2015, more than 700 families in Delaware, Madison, Union, Champaign, Logan, and Shelby counties were assisted through the Home Energy Assistance Summer Crisis Program.

Per Executive Director Rochelle Dennis Twining, “Summer heat impacts the health of people with certain illnesses, the elder and children. Heat can be deadly. Being able to circulate air or provide cool air helps people survive hot humid summer days.”

The Summer Crisis Program provides assistance to low-income households with an elderly member (60 or older) or households that can provide physician documentation that cooling assistance is needed for a household member’s health. This can include lung disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or asthma, which affects more than 850,000 Ohioans, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Eligible households can receive up to $300 if they are a customer of a regulated utility, or $500 if they are a customer of unregulated utilities such as electric cooperatives and municipal utilities. The assistance is applied to utility bills or applied to central air conditioning repair costs. Ohioans must have a gross income at or below 175 percent of the federal poverty guidelines to qualify for assistance. For a family of four, the annual income must be at or below $42,525.

Ohioans enrolled in the Percentage of Income Payment Plan Plus Program (PIPP Plus) are not eligible for bill-payment assistance through the program but are encouraged to work with Community Action to identify other opportunities for assistance.

For information call 937-507-9341.

Staff report