UCHRA awarded energy assistance funds

COOKEVILLE – The Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency (UCHRA) has received more than $2.1 million from the Tennessee Housing Development Agency to provide energy assistance to residents in need in the Upper Cumberland this year.

The agency, based in Cookeville, recently received notice it had been awarded the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funds. Luke Collins, UCHRA executive director, said the money will provide utility assistance to approximately 3,900 low-income households in the 14-county region.

UCHRA is now accepting LIHEAP applications at each of its county offices.

“Amid the current dismal economic news, there is finally some good news for citizens of the Upper Cumberland area who are struggling to pay their utility bills,” Collins said in a release.

LIHEAP is a federally funded program through the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), designed to assist low-income households in meeting home energy needs and intended to supplement energy costs for those eligible. Priority is not “first-come, first-served,” but rather based upon a point system that takes into consideration factors such as household income (maximum of 150 percent of the federal guidelines), number of children (under age 6) and household members who are elderly and/or disabled. Another factor is the percentage of income the household pays for its energy.

Documentation of income is required for the application process and must include proof of all household income. This includes check stubs for 13 weeks, or six paystubs if paid bi-monthly, Social Security, pension award or unemployment benefit letters. If self-employed, an applicant should provide a tax return. Applicants must also provide a copy of 12 months of the household’s electric and/or gas bills (if residing at current address for less than 12 months, a printout of all energy usage at this address required). Proof of all Social Security numbers are required for all household members. Some additional documentation may also be needed to process applications.

Assistance ranges from $300-$600 depending upon the total points. Once an application has been submitted, a household will be notified by mail within 90 day of the status of the application.

Households eligible for assistance are required to pay their energy bills until the awarded payment has been received by its designated utility provider, and when the benefit is exhausted, the household will return to paying for its energy costs.

A complete list of UCHRA county offices is available at http://www.uchra.com/countyoffices.html. For more information, call (931) 528-1285.

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