Some Northeast Ohio HEAP applicants continue to wait for help

HEAP applicants still wait for state approval

SOUTH EUCLID, Ohio - Some Northeast Ohio applicants to the Home Energy Assistance Program, or HEAP, are concerned they might not get approval for help until early March.

Sheryl Walter of South Euclid told News 5 she applied for HEAP help with her gas bill back on August 10, but said she was just told she may have to wait several more weeks to have the state make a final determination on the application for federal assistance.

"I can't believe the answer that I'm getting," said Walter.

"Someone told me that they might not be giving answers until March."

Walter said she's called the Cleveland HEAP hotline several times and checked her application on-line, but hasn't been given any real answers as to when she'll be approved for federal assistance.

Walter said she's aware of other seniors who have been left in limbo, wondering when their HEAP applications will finally be given the green light.

Walter is concerned some could have their gas service shutdown while they're waiting.

"They might not have family that they can move in with," said Walter.

"What's going to happen to their homes, what's going to happen to them."

News 5 reported on long wait times for HEAP applicants back on Dec. 14, now applicants are dealing with slow approval on their applications.

News 5 contacted the Council for Economic Opportunities in Greater Cleveland, which is one agency that deals with HEAP applications in Cuyahoga County, and Ohio's Development Services Agency which administrates the flow of federal funds to the HEAP program.

Both told News 5 more federal dollars would help move along the approval of HEAP applications more quickly.

The Council for Economic Opportunities blamed some of the HEAP delays on incomplete applications submitted by residents seeking heating help.

The agency set-up a webpage detailing all information needed when completing a HEAP application, hoping it will help prevent application mistakes.

Still, Walter believes all the government agencies involved can do a better job.

"I can't understand why they can't get it together," said Walter.

"They had more people that applied this year, but that shouldn't matter, they should be organized and they were expecting it."

The Council for Economic Opportunities In Greater Cleveland issued the following statement in response to our story:

"If a customer is missing one or more of these items, CEOGC will accept the application and leave it in an "incomplete status" until all the documentation has been returned. Once all the documentation has been provided, CEOGC will complete the application within 2-3 business days. Once the application is complete, CEOGC will notify the customer's utility companies within 24 hours."

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