State program offers help for high energy costs - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

State program offers help for high energy costs

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JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

You don't even need to walk outside to know it's hot and as the Mississippi heat flirts with triple digits, the temperature isn't all that's rising. So is the cost for cooling down.

To help beat the heat and high energy bills, the Mississippi Department of Human Services is offering the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, known as LIHEAP. It's a way for low-income elderly, disabled or families with young children to get financial help with energy costs during extreme weather conditions.

"It's probably the biggest program being utilized in the state of Mississippi," said Rankin County Human Resource Agency Executive Director Mark Dearman. The Rankin County HRA is just one of the Community Action Agencies across the state helping folks take advantage of the program.

"We have senior citizens and disabled people that are having to choose between buying food for the table, paying the electric or gas bill for the home or buying their prescription drugs. This is a way that we can help those individuals," said Dearman.

The assistance is not handed out every month a bill is due, but rather only once or twice a year . And to qualify, there's a screening process. Income and residency documents are required to apply and can be done through local community action and human resource agencies.

"Those are not requirements that we can get around, those are things that we must have," said Dearman.

The LIHEAP program is funded through federal dollars as community service block grants and is offered year round and can even be offered to folks outside of the criteria on a case management basis.

"I can name time and time again it's helped folks," said Dearman. 

To view a list of Community Action Agencies click on the link below.

http://www.mdhs.state.ms.us/pdfs/LIHEAPPressReleaseJune2011.pdf

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