Summer Crisis Program Helps Families Stay Cool

It is called “The Summer Crisis Program,” offering federal assistance to people who sometimes have to choose between food and electricity. It is meant for the elderly and families with a household member who are medical vulnerable or disability issues. The program helps families stay cool in summer and warm in the winter.

With the summer heat and humidity on the rise the July program is just what the doctor ordered. Last year the program offered families a maximum of $175 for the summer cooling season, the good news this year, the maximum has be raised to $350 for qualifying members. That is for regulated benefits, such as Columbia Gas and American Electric Power of Ohio bills. For those on unregulated service other than the two mentioned maximum benefits are $400.

Once the regulated benefits run out, the HEAP, Home Energy Assistance Program can assist the family with a budget plan.

“It is not money it is based on your income. We fix a budget with these utility vendors and you are able to pay according to what you earn,” said HEAP Director Colette Harrell.

The program is also offering another way to stay cool in the Summer heat if you suffering from asthma, COPD and other chronic illnesses and diseases, Harrell said the heat and humidity could be deadly.

“One of the great things about this program is not only will we pay your utility bill, but we will also be looking to give air conditioners to people who need to stay cool,” she said.

To qualify, you should not have received a window unit from HEAP during the years 2010 through 2013.

For those folks who have unregulated utilities (not Columbia Gas or AEP) to qualify for the assistance you just need to show a disconnect notice.

The phone line to schedule an appointment is open 24 hours a day at 1-866-861-6399.

HEAP representatives with the Breathing Association will be at NBC4 Thursday from 5 p.m. to 630 p.m. Their staff will schedule appointments and answer eligibility questions too. To call during the event only, call 614-821-4444.

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