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Utility assistance available for families who qualify
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Utility assistance available for families who qualify

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Iowans having difficulty paying their utility bills may be eligible for help from the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program.

The program, funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services through the Iowa Department of Human Rights, helps qualifying low-income Iowa homeowners and renters pay for a portion of their primary heating costs for the winter heating season. Assistance is based on household income, household size, type of fuel and type of housing.

Applications are now being accepted from households that include someone 60 years old or older, someone who is disabled or where disconnection is imminent, according to a press release from the Iowa Department of Human Rights. For all others, the application period runs from Nov. 1, 2020 through April 30, 2021. Anyone facing disconnection at any time should contact their local community action agency for assistance.

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“We know Iowa families are facing many challenges to cope with the COVID-19 virus,” the press release stated. “Some have lost jobs or had their hours of employment reduced. These circumstances and others could lead to difficulty in paying your utility bill.

“If you find yourself in that situation, there is help available through the state’s network of local community action agencies that have offices in all 99 counties. Families and individuals can apply for the Energy Assistance program through their local community action agency.”

In Council Bluffs, residents can apply at West Central Community Action’s office at the Omni Centre Business Park, 300 W. Broadway, Suite 35.

To qualify, a household of one must have gross income of no more than $1,860 per month or $22,330 per year. For a household of two, maximum gross income is $2,514 per month or $30,170 per year, according to the agency. That increases to $3,167 per month or $38,010 per year for a household of three and $3,820 per month or $45,850 per year for a household of four. The maximum for a household of five is $4,474 per month or $53,690 per year.

Applicants must verify their identity with Social Security cards for every member of the household or I-94 cards with the documented country. Applicants must supply a copy of their most recent heating and electric bill and proof of all household members’ gross income for the past 30 days or provide their 2019 federal income taxes. Applicants are taken by appointment only. For an appointment, call 712-322-2621.

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