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Early Registration For Home Energy Assistance Opens This Week

city hall
city Hall

Early registration opens Monday for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.

The program provides residents struggling to pay utility bills with funding to ensure their heat and electricity are not disconnected during winter months. In fiscal year 2015, the program assisted nearly 20,000 Louisville residents.

The program is income-based, and residents can qualify if they earn up to 130 percent of the area’s poverty threshold. That means a family of three could earn no more than $2,100 monthly to get assistance through the federal program.

Early registration is open to elderly or disabled residents receiving certain benefits, according to a press release.

No appointment is required for early registration, per the release. Click here to find early registration sites.

Income-eligible residents who don’t meet the requirements for pre-registration may still apply for benefits beginning Nov. 1. Qualifying residents can receive up to $400 to help pay utility bills during a crisis phase, which lasts from January to March.

In fiscal year 2015, officials disbursed nearly $4.2 million in assistance funds in Louisville.

But during the same year, more than $300,000 in funding for the program went unused, according to Cathy Hinko, executive director of the Metropolitan Housing Coalition.

Hinko addressed the Metro Council last year about what she called deliberate and systemic bias that pollutes the process of allocating funds associated with the program.

She said residents with metered utility service face stricter rules related to obtaining funding assistance, compared with residents in more rural areas who rely on propane-powered utilities.

For instance, she said residents with bulk heating sources, like propane, can “self assert” that they need assistance, while residents with metered services must present a “brown bill,” or a notice of disconnection, before being considered for LIHEAP funds.

On Friday, she said nothing has been done to address this issue.

Jacob Ryan is an award-winning investigative reporter who joined LPM in 2014. Email Jacob at jryan@lpm.org.