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HEAP winter crisis program begins

COLUMBUS — As the weather turns colder, keeping Ohioans warm and safe is a priority for the Ohio Department of Development as it kicks off another year of the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) Winter Crisis Program.

The program assists qualified low-income and elderly Ohioans with winter heating costs, beginning Nov. 1, 2010 and running through March 31, 2011. Ohio will receive an estimated $132 million in total federal HEAP funding for Fiscal Year 2011.

“Ohio is already seeing temperatures dip below freezing at night, and after last year’s bad winter, we know how important this program is for many Ohio families trying to stay warm,” said Lisa Patt-McDaniel, Director of the Ohio Department of Development. “We hope anyone who is eligible and needs help will take advantage of this opportunity.”

Due to increased demand for the Winter Crisis Program the Department is expanding the HEAP customer intake system by adding additional staff to handle a larger volume of calls. In addition, the Department is working with local provider agencies to expand opportunities for HEAP customers to make appointments.

The HEAP Winter Crisis Program, administered by the Ohio Department of Development’s Community Development Division, provides assistance once per heating season to eligible households that have been disconnected, are being threatened with disconnection, or have less than a 10-day supply of bulk fuel. Approximately 187,000 households were served during the 2009-2010 Winter Crisis Program.

Qualifying for HEAP is dependent on the size of the household and the total gross household income over the past three months, which must be at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty guidelines listed above.

For households with more than eight members, add $7,480 per member to the yearly income.

To apply for assistance through the HEAP Winter Crisis Program, households must have a face-to-face interview at their local provider agency.

Qualified Ohioans may call the Department’s toll-free hotline at (800) 282-0880, Monday through Friday for a referral to one of Ohio’s 56 local service providers. Hearing impaired customers may dial (800) 686-1557 for assistance.

For more information about the HEAP Winter Crisis Program, visit energyhelp.ohio.gov.