The harsh winter months have left several low-income families with high energy bills, but Gov. Jay Nixon’s $3.5 million amendment to his supplementary budget might help.
Nixon said Monday that the funding would be included in general reve
nue for the Utilicare program that provides fuel and utility assistance for low-income Missourians.
In a press release Monday, Nixon said that the unusual harsh weather in Missouri has put “many households with limited means in a real bind.”
He said, “This additional funding for Utilicare will enable more families to pay those higher utility bills.”
The funding is said to be used through the Energy Crisis Intervention Program, a program that provides financial assistance to households in a high energy crisis. According to Community Services Director for Central Missouri Community Action Angela Hirsch, a crisis situation in Missouri is defined as “a family or a household who has either lost their utility services or they’re on threat of being disconnected by their local utility vendor.” Families can apply for crisis assistance up to $800 to either alleviate the disconnect threat or hopefully get them reconnected.
Hirsch said that there has been a shortage of money and additional funding will be helpful.
“It would be very helpful,” she said. “Here in Central Missouri, it could probably allow us to assist a few hundred additional families that find themselves in crisis.”
Marketing and Communications Manager of the Missouri Association and Community Action Jessica Long said that the agency ensures that families at risk are provided services, not just services in energy assistance.
“Our agencies actually provide additional programs for low-income families that help families reach self-sufficiency,” Long said.
The fund used in the Energy Crisis Intervention program will be allocated to each of the 18 Community Action Agencies and the Urban League. About 5,600 households statewide are estimated to benefit from these funds. Eligibility requirements are based on household size, income, disability and available resources and responsibility for home energy costs.