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Home heating, cooling assistance is available

(ran LTCTNT, CTI editions)

The Emergency Home Energy Assistance Program is available to those in need based on age, income and circumstance. The following questions and answers outline the basics of the program.

Q Can you briefly explain how the program operates?

A The program is available for low-income Pinellas and Pasco households in which residents age 60 and older have had or are in danger of having their source of heating or cooling _ electricity or natural gas, for example _ cut off. The program can also provide fans during the summer season and blankets, heaters, heating oil, kerosene or wood during the winter season for those homes that do not have adequate heating or cooling systems. Assistance is provided on a first-come, first-served basis until the funds are depleted.

Q Are there any income guidelines for this program?

A Yes. The income guidelines are 110 percent of the federal poverty level. The income limits by household size are: one person, $675; two people, $902; $1,129; four, $1,357; five, $1,584; six, $1,811. Add $227 for each additional person.

Q How many times can a household receive this assistance?

A A household can receive this assistance one time during the heating season, which runs from Oct. 1 to March 31, and once during the summer season, which runs from April 1 to Sept. 30.

Q Whom do I contact to get assistance from this program?

A In Pinellas County, contact the Department of Social Services at 464-3566 in Clearwater, and 582-7781 in St. Petersburg. In Pasco County, contact the Department of Social Services at (904) 521-4572 in Dade City, and (813) 834-3297 in New Port Richey.

Lisa Phillips is a social worker with the Pinellas County Department of Social Services and project director of the Emergency Home Energy Assistance Program.

This monthly column is provided by the Area Agency on Aging for Pinellas and Pasco counties. It is written by local experts and members of the agency's Information and Referral Advisory Council. Additional information on the topic is available by calling the Senior Hotline and requesting this month's free Senior Help Kit. The Helpline number in Pinellas is 576-1533; in Pasco, (800) 861-8111.

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