Northeast Ohio residents wait for heating assistance from Home Energy Assistance Program

Wooster seniors are running low on heating fuel

WOOSTER, Ohio - Becky Walsh is worried her space heaters won't be enough to deal with dropping temperatures at her Wooster home.

Walsh told NewsChannel5 her application for the Home Energy Assistance Program, or HEAP was processed back on Sept. 15, but she's concerned she'll run out of propane before the funds get to her door.

"I don't even turn my furnace on right now because it's so low that I'm afraid if I turn it on it will be gone because there's like one percent in the tank," Walsh said.

Walsh explained she and other Wooster seniors are concerned the Ohio Development Services Agency will be behind in issuing critical heating assistance to the needy this coming winter.

Walsh told NewsChannel5 she contacted the Wayne County Community Action Center about her HEAP application and was told it's possible heating assistance funds could be delayed.

"The lady at community action told me she had talked to the state and she said you won't get anything out of them because they are really far behind," she said.

NewsChannel5 called the Ohio Development Services Agency in Columbus and we were told that it is processing HEAP applications as quickly as possible.

It explained customers that have concerns about their HEAP benefits can contact Ohio Development Services Agency directly at 800-282-0880 and a team will be ready to address their individual questions.

The agency issued the following information about available heating assistance:

Ohioans can apply for HEAP any time during the year.  Eligible Ohioans receive a one-time credit (depending on how many people live with you, total household income, and the primary fuel you use to heat your home) applied to your energy bill by your utility company (or fuel vendor).

Ohioans needing assistance with their energy bills can also apply for the Percentage of Income Payment Plan Plus. It is an extended payment arrangement that requires regulated gas and electric companies to accept payments based on a percentage of the household income for customers at or below 150 percent of the current federal poverty guidelines.

If you heat with gas, you pay 6 percent of your monthly household income to your gas company and 6 percent to your electric company. If you heat with electricity, you pay 10 percent of your monthly household income.

Current PIPP customers should contact their Local Community Action Agency to re-verify their income eligibility for the program.

The Ohio Development Services Agency has one application for both programs that can be found here.

People interested in finding out if they qualify for the programs should contact their local Community Action Agency. A list of providers can be found on this website.

Meanwhile, Walsh is hoping HEAP assistance will get to her in time.

"I'm praying two months means two months, but I still have three weeks to wait," Walsh said. "I'm freezing. I'm very cold."

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