LIHEAP program out of funds for emergency home heating assistance


Reporter - Briana Conner
Photographer - Justin Jones

MAYFIELD, Ky.- Low-income individuals and families who rely on financial assistance from West Kentucky Allied Services to heat their homes are out of luck, because the LIHEAP program is out of money.

They started out with more than $933,000 on January 13th. Now, they're down to zero less than a month later. The assistant executive director says the constant cold and higher than normal prices for propane are both partly to blame. The agency and its customers are both waiting to see if and when more money is coming

"They kept coming in, kept coming in," said Ollie Reeves with West Kentucky Allied Services. Her face is usually the first thing people see at the office in Mayfield, but Reeves says the sign posted on the door is stopping people in their tracks now. It reads, "Sorry. Out of funds." Reeves said, "They've been driving up all day. They'll get out, read it, and get back in the car and go."

Reeves log lists the names of each person who has gotten home heating help this winter. "We have seen 4,317 people," she said. The last of them came in Monday. Tuesday, their waiting room sat empty. "They were calling me this morning to see if there's any way they could get some additional money. Of course, we can't," said Assistant Executive Director Tony Dowdy.

The long, harsh winter drained the program's resources faster than usual. Dowdy said, "Last year, we didn't have many days that was subzero. It's caused the clients to use more fuel if they have propane as their heating source and run out sooner." Now, those clients can't count on the LIHEAP service that's out of funds but full of heart-felt apologies. "I keep saying, sorry. I'm sorry," said Reeves.

Dowdy said there is a chance they could get more money from The Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services'. For now, they're taking down the names and contact information for people who need emergency heating assistance. If they do get additional funding, it will go out on a first come, first served basis.