Beginning Sept. 21, a Lee County Department of Human Services staff member will be at the Beacon of H.O.P.E. every Friday to take applications for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program for those who qualify.
Janeth Maldonado, eligibility coordinator for the Lee County Department of Human Services, said they have been doing the program on Pine Island for two years, this year being the third. Although the department has had the program for more than 20 years, it began an outreach program three years ago where staff members go out into different communities.
The energy program, which is federally funded, is composed of two benefits - cooling season from April 1 through Sept. 30 and the heating season from Oct. 1 through March 31.
Maldonado said for the cooling season, help is offered if electricity disconnected or a household needs an electric deposit to turn their electric on. She said the benefit is up to $600 to cover whatever the needs are to get the lights back on and prevent disconnection from occurring.
The same guidelines are used for the heating season up to $600 to provide funds to reconnect or to stop disconnection from occurring.
The assistance is based on a household size and income.
If You Go:
What: Low Income Home
Energy Assistance Program
Where: Beacon of H.O.P.E.,
5465 N.W. Pine Island Road
When: Sept. 21 and every
Appointments: Call the
Beacon at 239-283-5123,
no walk-in's allowed.
The 2012 income maximums for a household of one person is $1,396.25 for a monthly gross income or $16,755 for an annual gross income; a household of two is $1,891.25 for a monthly gross income or $22,695 for an annual gross income; a household of three people is $2,386.25 for a monthly gross income or $28,635 for an annual gross income; a household of four people is $2,881.25 for a monthly gross income or $34,575 for an annual gross income; a household of five people is $3,376.25 for a monthly gross income or $40,515 for an annual gross income and a household of six people is $3,871.25 for a monthly gross income or $46,455 for an annual gross income.
For every additional member of a household add $5,940 per year.
Qualified individuals can also receive a credit towards their energy bill based on their household size and income. Maldonado said with the benefit the bill does not have to be past due, but rather just owing money for a bill.
"They can get a credit towards their energy," she said. "Only one time within that 12-month period."
The first day staff members from the Lee County Department of Human Services will be at the Beacon of H.O.P.E. is Sept. 21. Individuals must call the Beacon for details and to set up an appointment. No walk-ins are allowed.
"They are going to schedule 25 applicants for us to go there and see them," Maldonado said, adding it will take place every Friday.
Individuals must bring an original electric bill, picture ID for head of the household and/or person completing application, Social Security cards for all household members, entire household income information (last four weeks of pay stubs, unemployment benefit, SSI/SSA, TANIF, worker's compensation, child support, etc.) and if you are on section 8 or food stamps (award letter or food stamp card or utility check.)
Maldonado said once the application is complete they sort out the applicants who are going to have their services disconnected first because that is their top priority. She said they have 15 days to work on the client's application.
"Probably a week or so before the client can get the approval or the determination," she said about the time frame.