Funds available for heating bills

December 10, 1997

Funds available for heating bills


Staff Writer, Chambersburg

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - When some Franklin County residents have to make the choice between eating or heating this winter, officials at the local energy assistance program want to know about it.

Heating assistance is available to low-income families in the county through the state-funded Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.

"The intent is to help people with the high cost of heating, not to pay it for them," said Jane Chontos, energy coordinator at the Franklin County office.

The money from the state is paid directly to the heat supplier and credited to the approved households, Chontos said.

Last year, 1,009 Franklin County families received $216,600 in aid, Chontos said.

Of those, many were senior citizens, disabled residents and young families on fixed incomes who were just getting by, Chontos said.


By the end of November, the county office had received 599 applications for heat assistance.

To be eligible, a family of four cannot earn more than $17,655 a year and can own or rent their home, Chontos said.

Last year, Pennsylvania received $79 million in federal funds for the program, which helped 5.6 million households, said U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., in a letter to President Clinton this week.

This year, the federal government has cut the amount by 16 percent to $66.5 million, a reduction state lawmakers are fighting.

"The regular ... program allocations to the states are clearly going to be insufficient to meet minimal needs," Specter said in the letter.

The $1 billion allocated this year is the same amount appropriated last year. But the program also received another $215 million in emergency funding last year because of rising fuel prices.

Franklin County residents can request an application for the program by calling 1-717-264-6121. Applications must be postmarked by Dec. 20.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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