People who need assistance paying their utility bills can sign up for an appointment at Lower Columbia Community Action Program (CAP) starting Tuesday, November 20, 8:30 am, at the CAP building, located at 1526 Commerce Avenue in Longview, next to the Columbia Theatre.
Appointments are scheduled on a first come, first served basis. Appointments cannot be made by phone, except for Wahkiakum County residents.
In order to receive assistance, people are now required to attend a two-hour class on how to conserve energy in their homes and stretch their utilities budgets.
CAP administers the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), a federally funded program that provides money to help low income households make home heating more affordable during the winter months.
If a person is unable to come to CAP on November 20, they can send a proxy with their name, address, phone number, and source of their income (for example, Social Security, Supplementary Security Income, TANF.)
Wahkiakum residents have the choice of coming to CAP on November 20, or they can call for an appointment after November 20 (A certain number of appointments are held for Wahkiakum County residents.) CAP staff will then hold those appointments in January, February and March at the Wahkiakum County Health & Human Services office in Cathlamet
To be eligible for energy assistance, a household’s income must be at or below $125% federal poverty level guidelines (For example, one person could earn a monthly income after taxes of $1,164, two people could earn $1,576, three people could earn $1,989.)
Last winter season CAP distributed $549,528 to assist 1,365 households, or 3,308 people, of whom more than 1,000 were children. With an anticipated reduction in federal funds, CAP officials estimate they will be able to serve 1,100 households this winter with the $419,390 in federal funds.
Note: CAP only pays money to utility vendors, not to the individuals themselves.
Between November 2011 and June 2012, more than 1700 people attended the energy conservation classes which cover a range of topics, including how to weatherize one’s home, calculating the cost of one’s electric appliances, safety tips for air quality, and caring for one’s water heater. The classes end with each household creating their own action plan. Feedback on the classes has been very positive with 70 percent of the participants reporting that they came away with useful strategies to lower their energy costs.
CAP also coordinates the Senior Discount Program and the Disabled Discount Program for Cowlitz PUD, which are separate from LIHEAP. People who are currently on a discount rate program are still required to sign up for on appointment on November 20, if they want federal energy assistance, said Roxana Shelton, CAP’s Energy Assistance Coordinator
For questions, people can call CAP Energy & Housing at 360-425-3430 (800-383-2101) ext 231.