LIHEAP Stories

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Take a look at some real life stories of LIHEAP

This is why we need LIHEAP! If you would like to share your story, go here: Tell Us Your Story
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Carol, from Missouri

I work in a community action agency outreach office and have seen the LIHEAP program help many clients but the need for LIHEAP became real to me when my husband was unable to work and we were reduced to one income. We were struggling to buy groceries and pay bills. ECIP was a Godsend.

from Derrick, of Missouri

But to tens of thousands of people who cannot help themselves, cannot pull themselves above poverty or are too sick, feeble or elderly to do so, LIHEAP is a starkly necessary, beyond-debate life saver that literally keeps people alive and provides a necessary service that citizens deserve and need.

Mine is the story of tens of thousands of people where a disabled person is struggling so often to barely keep their head above water that it seems that sharks are circling at the end of each month. Yes, it seems a bit of an exaggerated plight but in reality, it can be a matter of life an death.

In my case, I have a home oxygen separator that provides oxygen not only for my portable tanks, but also for night time sleep usage with which I could easily succumb to a loss of air and die. Without the medical equipment at home, and as such without the electricity constantly on, I would die or have repeated ludicrously expensive trips to the emergency room, and of that there is no doubt.

I was one of the people who after suffering a disabling clot, and subsequent diagnosis of COPD and thick blood, with an enlarged left side of my heart, I could no longer function and provide successfully for myself. As hard as I tried after my clot, I eventually had to file for disability which is now $730 per month.

Even with food benefits I could not make it and pay for my utility bills without LiHeap to assist in paying my utilities to not only provide for cooling during the hottest days of summer and heating for the freezing cold of winter, but I would perish without the oxygen I need to breathe and stay alive. So LiHeap is often much more than merely helping low income families to pay their utilities.

Considering that tens of thousands of elderly and other disabled people and sometimes elderly are disabled too, they are without any other form of assistance beyond the smallest basics of a fixed low income far below the poverty level to simply exist. It is not the responsibility of the churches or of the communities or of the states. Even with the small but helpful donations and assistance that can sometimes be had in a few areas but not all, from ministerial alliances or religious organizations, without this help it would be a life-threatening event.

It is easy for a sitting president to shirk this responsibility and blame excess funding on so called fraud claims, or attempt to unrighteously shift the responsibility to states which would have to impose a new tax on everyone to be able to fund utility assistance for the needy, disabled and elderly. Of course, for he sits in his nice white house or his Mar a Largo resort inside environmentally controlled walls of non-worry and non-troublesome elitist luxury.

But to tens of thousands of people who cannot help themselves, cannot pull themselves above poverty or are too sick, feeble or elderly to do so, Liheap is a starkly necessary, beyond-debate life saver that literally keeps people alive and provides a necessary service that citizens deserve and need.

We are not some culled undesirable lower caste to be thrown away to the side or shoved off on the states to provide for. It is a federal responsibility to its people, not a privilege, not the government dole, but a truly genuine responsibility of the government.

Katrina, from California

Hi, my name is Katrina and I just wanted to write a few lines to say that I’m truly grateful for the service that Heap has to offer to many individuals without discriminating in our society. Most people in life don’t realize the struggle living without any support from a friend, love one or family member. Bless the organization, that support the community when they can’t help themselves. It could be you. This note is sent with love, and understanding of life. Whomever maybe reading this letter, it may be wise to think of a new plan to help others instead of eliminating the organization that has helped so many. Save LIHEAP!

Raylene from California

I am living again in my central California hometown because of the relatively low cost of living here. I rent a low cost senior apartment and have minimal insurance for my 13 year old car. I have the lowest cost medicare supplemental insurance I can find and all my other expenses are as low as I can keep them. I had to drop my renter’s insurance and the newspaper because I just can’t afford them. My $1103 in Social Security has stretched as far as I can manage. Without the HEAP program I would not be able to run the air conditioner during the 3 months of summer when temperatures are close to 100. We have a lot of seniors with the same concerns; please envision yourself in our shoes and keep this program for us. Thank you.

Ms. Alexander of Owings Mills, MD was living the American dream: family, job, and home ownership. But after a divorce, she was forced to sell her home to focus on taking care of her ill son, even as she faced the loss of her job. The bills began to mount and she received a turn-off notice for her utilities. She couldn’t lose power. Her son has a chronic illness and needs special medical equipment to breathe.

“I’ve personally witnessed people encounter a sudden or unexpected incident that impacts their ability to pay bills,” said Ms. Alexander. “Having to choose between paying rent or mortgage on time versus other bills, and knowing things are going to snowball, is scary. Just because you live in a certain zip code doesn’t mean it can’t happen to you,” she added.

She had seen neighbors’ homes go dark before and realized they hadn’t moved — they too had been unable to pay their utility bill. Now, it was happening to her. Where could she find help?

“I think the Fuel Fund of Maryland is tremendously different from the other support agencies,” said Ms. Alexander. “To get a [return] phone call that same day in such a short time period was simply amazing.”  The Fuel Fund team was able to apply the necessary funds and keep Ms. Alexander and her son from losing power.

“I will be forever grateful to the wonderful people at the Fuel Fund,” said Ms. Alexander, “and more importantly, to the generous donors who give donations out of the goodness of their hearts. You did not judge me when I was desperate for help, and for that I will always be grateful,” she said.

from Clifton, of Missouri

Imagine sitting in a cold house watching the snowflakes fall and the thermostat plummets to below freezing temperatures.  If you could, you would turn the heat on, but you can’t because your gas has been disconnected, now imagine being handicapped. For one handicapped Kansas City woman, she didn’t have to use her imagination because it was playing out in real-time for her.

Kansas City temperatures had been unseasonably warm for weeks, and with spring just around the corner, Kansas City area residents whose utilities had been disconnected felt they were on the home stretch to the end of winter. Unfortunately, on Saturday, March 11, 2017, old man winter returned catching a lot of folks off guard. Balmy temps well above the 70s in February and early March led to a slew of disconnect notices being issued. For a lot of folks struggling to pay their utilities, the early exit of one season to the next can bring a sigh of relief and buy some time to seek assistance or get their finances in order.

Thanks to the LIHEAP program administered by the Community Action Agency of Greater Kansas City (CAAGKC), one handicapped Kansas City woman was able to stay warm in freezing temperatures.  The Kansas City Police Department (KCPD) was alerted to the handicapped woman’s situation and they were the first responders. KCPD in turn reached out to CAAGKC for assistance and Outreach Supervisor, Stacey Washington, was able to make a home visit and get services restored to this woman’s residence.

It’s unimaginable to think of what might have happened if the police had been alerted a day later, and even more chilling to think what could happen to hundreds of individuals and families if there is no LIHEAP program.  Last year CAAGKC’s LIHEAP program assisted 9,489 individuals and families with utility assistance.   The LIHEAP program is helping to meet the basic needs of the handicapped, elderly, displaced workers, and families living in poverty.

from Ms. Jennifer, California

Last winter my family had moved in a new place. We have never had a home with a fire place in it.  With the expenses of moving and a month later our car breaking down and with the coldest winters we have ever felt. With the fire place being the only source of heat in the house  We did not have the money to buy wood. We tried to just use blankets to cover up with but that was not working.  My kids were still cold.  I found out that Liheap provided wood Assistance.  I called to see if I was able to get assistance and they said yes. Not even two days later I had my appointment. Let let know know that i was eligible for 2 cords of wood.  The liheap people also had the wood delivered to my house we did not have to go pick it up.

Without Liheap my family would not have had heat in the home.

Please Save the program. Thank you.

from Justine, of Missouri

I work for a nonprofit that helps keep low-income, medically vulnerable St. Louisans safe in their own homes from extreme temperatures. So many of the people we serve rely on LIHEAP to keep their utilities on and their homes habitable. We consider ourselves, in part, a homelessness prevention organization. Without the ability to heat their homes in winter, our clients will not be able to age in place but will have to move in with family (if they even have any). Our donors are incredible and we’re able to do so much, but we can’t do it alone. Our community, like many others, needs LIHEAP.

Ms. Andrea is a single mom in her early 50s who lives in the Baltimore metropolitan area. She could be your neighbor, and she’s a donor to the Fuel Fund of Maryland. When she fell upon difficult times, the Fuel Fund was there to help.

After she lost her job due to company downsizing, Ms. Andrea tried to make ends meet for herself and a child with a life-threatening chronic illness, with just unemployment benefits. A week before Christmas, her unemployment benefits were cut unexpectedly and she had no income or financial support.

“I had been unemployed for six months, working hard to get a job,” she said. “I never thought I would be in this position, and now I had to worry about losing my home and keeping my family and two dogs warm in an extreme cold winter. The meteorologists were talking about ‘polar vortex’ and ‘arctic freeze.’  I was scared,” added Ms. Andrea.

To stay warm, they hovered in one room with layers of clothes and jackets, and a small electric heater. Buying heating oil for the home was not an option when there wasn’t enough money to put food on the table. One day, a friend reminded her that she was a donor to the Fuel Fund of Maryland and she should call for assistance.  She called, and two tanks of oil were delivered – ensuring her family was safe during their time of need.

“To me, this was like a miracle – a prayer being answered,” exclaimed Ms. Andrea. “You just don’t know what it is like to be without heat until you experience it for yourself. It is one thing to manage and work through tough times by and for yourself, but when other lives depend on you to keep them safe and protected, it is one of the most devastating feelings you can have.”

Ms. Andrea and her family found warmth during the coldest time of the year, thanks to the donors and supporters of the Fuel Fund of Maryland. Today, Ms. Andrea has a new job and her child and pets are doing well.

“I will always be grateful to the Fuel Fund of Maryland.  You allowed me to concentrate on life and living instead of worrying about surviving.”

from Debbie, of California

Before the liheap program weatherized my home my bills were double. My kids are sick less often due to less drafts…Thank u for your help!!

from Rodney, of California

I have helped liheap residents with furnace repair and replacements fix their stoves also fixed their water heaters. I do this to save them on their utility bills but most of all to keep them safe, with carbon monoxide deaths on the rise heaters, stoves and water heaters have to be working properly, if the heater don’t work residents use the stove for heat and this causes carbon monoxide poisoning it’s a health and safety issue. The residents we take care of and this program employees a lot of people from Me the contractor, my 2 employees, the manufacturer of the systems and parts I use, the intackerrs, staff at the agency called PACE located in downtown Los Angeles we are all employed by this program also the residents are not only safe but they save on their utilities and are able to take that savings and spend it elsewhere to help the economy. Please save this program it benefits so many.

from Karen, of Connecticut

Each year, Operation Fuel, a non-profit committed to helping low income households in Connecticut afford their energy bills, produces a report of the energy affordability in our state.  The following data points from our last study demonstrate the need for and the impact of LIHEAP in our state: •    In 2016, the aggregate gap for state households with income at or below 200% FPL was $399,010,402.  This is not the total energy bill, but the dollar amount that exceeds the affordable level. •    Average amount that home energy bills exceed affordable bills in low income households in CT is $1,241. •    322,000 households with incomes at or below 200% FPL fall in to the gap – nearly 25% of the total number of households in the state. •    The federal LIHEAP, the primary source of low income energy assistance, provides $85 million, or 21% of the aggregate gap. •    LIHEAP provides assistance to over 100,000 Connecticut households a year.