Summer cooling program funding in jeopardy

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Reporter - Lauren Adams
Photojournalist - David Dycus

MAYFIELD, Ky. - Federal cuts are forcing agencies to make some tough decisions when it comes to helping clients pay utility bills.

Agencies like West Kentucky Allied Services depend on federal dollars to fuel summer cooling programs. But, those dollars are still being debated as part of the federal sequester.

Director Tony Dowdy says The Community Service Block Grant and LIHEAP program are both in jeopardy. Those programs helped 500 families in eight counties last summer. Dowdy says his agency will not receive a single dollar, and families will not be eligible for help until the federal government announces a decision July 1.

"That's unbelievable, but that's what we're doing. We're sitting and waiting to hear what will happen," he admitted, adding he is receiving 15 plus phone calls a day from clients he is having to turn away.

Needline's director, Jackie Herndon, says, as a result, he is seeing more clients. So, he is trying to stretch his funds, mainly from individuals and church groups.

"I dread the day I gotta send somebody out of here, knowing their utilities are going to be shut off, but I'm afraid it's coming," he said.

Herndon said, to stretch existing funds, he is asking clients to pay whatever they can of their bills, even if it is $10 or $20.

Dowdy says if funding is cut, his agency would have to re-work his budget so clients could receive help. He says that means possibly cutting employee hours and even programs serving senior citizens.

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