LORAIN COUNTY, Ohio — As temperatures here in Northeast Ohio soar, with Monday and Tuesday hitting record highs for the year, getting cooled off is causing electric bills to skyrocket.
For many, affording those bills may be difficult. But qualifying Ohioans may be able to get relief from those bills while still getting relief from the heat.
The Home Energy Assistance Summer Crisis Program begins Thursday across Ohio, helping low-income residents pay for electric bills, air conditioners and fans.
In Lorain County alone, more than 3,000 have been helped by the HEAP Summer Crisis Program.
"I've had people in tears of happiness just because they qualify for payment. You can get all three. It just it does it doesn't just have to be AC and a fan. You can also get the remaining balance, apply it to your electric bill," said Darnella Higginbotham, Energy Services Coordinator at the Lorain County Community Action Agency.
Under the program, low-income residents can receive up to $800 to help pay for utilities, a fan, an air conditioning unit or air conditioning repairs.
The state is keeping its expanded eligibility and benefit requirements that were put in place last summer as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In order to qualify for the HEAP Summer Crisis Program, residents must have a gross annual income at or below 175% of the federal poverty line and have someone in the household 60 years or older, have a documented medical condition or COVID-19, have had their electricity disconnected or have received a disconnection notice or are currently enrolled or enrolling in the Percentage of Income Payment Plan Plus.
Agencies like LCCAA are predicting a huge need as a result of income and job loss from the pandemic and the high temperatures across the state.
"We've already been receiving emails and voicemails, calls coming in from all over for our air conditioners," Higginbotham said.
While demand is high, LCCAA said it will have enough air conditioners to meet the need.
Applications can be submitted beginning Thursday and up until Sept. 30.
To learn more about the Ohio Home Energy Assistance Summer Crisis Program click here. To be directed to your local PIPP provider, call (800) 282-0880.
For information about the Lorain Summer Crisis Program, click here or call 440-245-1870.
For information from the Cuyahoga County CHN housing partners, click here or call 216-350-8008.
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