Federal grant helps keep people warm

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WATERLOO, Iowa (KWWL) – Winter is right around the corner and the cost of heating a home can be really expensive.

The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) can help make paying those bills a little easier for folks beneath the poverty line.

“You know, it’s really in many respects, a life saving factor,” said Operation Threshold Executive Director Barbara Grant.

Most people in eastern Iowa have already turned on their furnace for the season, but doing so isn’t cheap and quickly can run up and electric or gas bill.

LIHEAP is a federal grant program that determines the need of a household and makes a payment directly to the utility company.

Operation Threshold is the group in charge of administering the program in Black Hawk, Buchanan and Grundy counties. Their phones ring constantly this time of year.

“We take about 5,000 applications between October 1 and April and the vast majority of them come in in November and December,” said Grant.

Grant said no family who qualifies for the LIHEAP program will go cold this winter.

“For eligible households that have applied and been determined eligible, it kicks in what is called the moratorium and the utility companies can’t shut off their utilities from November 1 through the end of March,” she said.

However, if you qualify but haven’t applied you can still get shut off. If that happens, she said, they’ll work to get you taken care of.

“If they haven’t yet applied, come in and apply. Notify us that you’ve got a disconnect notice and we’ll process that application first,” said Grant.

The Iowa Utilities Board said the moratorium is only applicable to those who qualify for LIHEAP. A utility company cannot simply cut off a customer. They must work with the customer and give them a payment plan option before they shut off services.

Find more information on the LIHEAP program by going here.

Information on Operation Threshold can be found here.

Collin Dorsey

Collin Dorsey

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