Beginning July 1, the Ohio Development Services Agency and Lake County Council on Aging will help income-eligible Ohioans maintain their utility service through the Home Energy Assistance Summer Crisis Program. The program helps eligible Ohioans pay an electric bill, purchase an air conditioning unit or fan, or pay for central air conditioning repairs. This year, the program will run from July 1 until September 30, 2020.
“In years past, the Council on Aging has assisted Lifeline, Inc., Lake County’s Community Action Agency, with helping seniors apply for this program at various senior centers in our area. Unfortunately, the senior centers are still closed due to COVID-19 and it is not known if they will open in time (or in what capacity) for the Council on Aging to be able to assist with the application process at the centers,” states Jennifer McLaughlin, Manager of the Aging & Disability Resource Center at the Council on Aging. “We will continue to do everything possible during this time to ensure seniors have information and resources to access the benefits they need.”
The Summer Crisis Program assists low-income households with an older household member (60 years or older), or households that can provide physician documentation that cooling assistance is needed for a household member’s health. Examples of conditions can include lung disease, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, asthma, etc. This year, households that were diagnosed with COVID-19 in 2020, have a disconnect notice, have been shut off, or are trying to establish new service on their electric bill are also eligible for assistance.
Ohioans can visit energyhelp.ohio.gov to start their application prior to their required appointment. This year appointments can be held over the phone or in person at Lifeline, Inc. To schedule an appointment call, (440) 350-9160.
Eligible households can receive up to $500 if they are a customer of a regulated utility, or $800 if they are a customer of unregulated utilities such as electric cooperatives and municipal utilities. The assistance is applied to their utility bill, or to purchase an air conditioning unit or fan, or pay for central air conditioning repairs. Ohioans must have a gross income at or below 175% of the federal poverty guidelines to qualify for assistance. For a family of four the annual income must be at or below $45,850.00.
Also new this year, Ohioans enrolled in the Percentage of Income Payment Plan Plus Program (PIPP) who meet the above criteria may be eligible for assistance towards their default PIPP payment, first PIPP payment, central air conditioning repairs, or may receive an air conditioning unit and/or fan.
For more information about the features of the Summer Crisis Program locally and what is needed to apply, contact the Lake County Council on Aging at (440) 205-8111. Additional information can also be found at www.energyhelp.ohio.gov or by calling (800) 282-0880.