LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The low-income home energy assistance program, or LIHEAP, receives funding from the federal government, state government, and this year added Cares Act funding to the mix as well.
The program usually runs from early July until the end of September, but as of right now, it won’t be funded through September.
The LIHEAP program is designed to help people pay their utility bills and prevent them from getting cut off. Systems and programs manager Todd Anderson says that additional demand due to COVID had LIHEAP busy for much of the summer.
“We’ve already in two months processed about 14,000 applications typically we would look at about 10,000 applications,” said Anderson.
He says the Cares Act funding the program received was able to supplement the overall program and even was able to leave many recipients with a credit of up to $675 on their bill.
“We were able to supplement three times the amount than we did only on the regular crisis program,” said Anderson.
In a more normal year, the LIHEAP summer program rolled out roughly $2 million in assistance. This year it’s been quite a bit more.
“As of right now, we are looking at about $3,200,000 that we paid out since July 8,” said Anderson.
And that has led to the program running out of funding and has stopped accepting applications for September. Anderson says the demand is still there, however.
“We’ve gotten hundreds of calls already today wanting to know, which is unusual for us. We’re a pretty large organization and so we get hundreds of calls, but yeah we still have a lot of people out there needing help,” said Anderson.
He says they are looking for additional funding streams to fund the last month of the program, but they are still trying to help people keep their lights on.
“Some of the utility companies and in various municipalities, have individual programs that they have so we just make as many referrals as we can,” said Anderson.
Now, this does not affect LIHEAP’s winter program that will start in early January as that is a whole new year of funding streams.