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LIHEAP Helps With Cooling Costs

As summer heats up, AARP Mississippi is spreading the word about programs that help with energy costs. The federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) provides financial aid to eligible households to help pay energy bills.

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Benefits vary, and households may qualify either for regular LIHEAP assistance or the emergency Energy Crisis Intervention Program to pay for natural gas, wood, electricity, propane and other heating fuels or services. Individuals with less than $16,245 annual income and couples with less than $21,855 may be eligible.

High energy costs disproportionately impact low-to-middle income families. Some are forced to choose between paying their heating bill and buying other essentials, such as food and medicine.

“AARP advocates for LIHEAP funds to assist people who need help with rising energy costs,” said AARP Mississippi Senior State Director Sherri Davis-Garner. “We encourage Mississippians who need help keeping cool in the summer and warm in the winter to apply for these funds. Economic conditions have put some families in a financial strain.”

LIHEAP is a federally funded block grant program created in 1981 to help low-income households reduce the proportion of income they pay for home energy. Under LIHEAP, the federal government allocates funding to the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and other grantees, including U.S. territories, commonwealths and Indian tribal organizations. Within certain federal limits, each grantee designs its own program to disburse LIHEAP funds. Each state receives a percentage of the regular LIHEAP appropriation, and the size of a state percentage may vary.

These programs helped more than 66,000 Mississippi households in 2009. To apply, call the Community Action Agency at 800-421-0762.

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