COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – It’s getting colder which means thermostats will be rising inside Ohioan’s homes. It can be a struggle for some people to keep their houses warm during the winter months. That’s why the Ohio Department of Development offers its Home Energy Assistance Winter Crisis Program.
As of Nov. 1, eligible Ohioans are able to apply for the Winter Crisis Program. It helps people who are facing service disconnection or have been disconnected from their gas or electric company.
“People can’t afford to live where they work and that means things are increasing. Utility bills are increasing, grocery bills are increasing, childcare expenses are increasing so for those households that need a little bit of help, our heat program, our Winter Crisis Program is able to assist those households,” said Shameikia Smith, the Vice President of Housing Programs with IMPACT Community Action.
To qualify for the program, a household must be at or below 175% of the federal poverty level. For a one-person household that’s equivalent to earning a little more than $25,000 annually.
Smith said this low income is a reality for many people in Franklin County.
“It’s absolutely a need in our community. It’s absolutely a need everywhere and we need for individuals to know how they can access these services should they be eligible,” said Smith.
Thousands of people rely on the program each year as utility bills and the cost of living continues to increase.
Smith said people should not be ashamed to ask for help in a time of need.
“We are your neighbors. We live in this community, we work in this community and it’s okay to ask for help in this community. We all at some point in our lives have needed that help and IMPACT is here to serve,” Smith said.