Missouri’s program to help low-income people keep the heat on is seeing some worrisome trends before the coldest part of winter really hits. The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, LIHEAP, provides people living below or just above the poverty line with financial help in paying heating bills. Last year, 122,000 households got the help. This year, 76,000 people have applied for help. At the Social Services Department, Janel Luck says the program is on track for similar numbers as last year. Forty percent of those seeking help were not in the program last year, and many are in crisis situations. Community Action Agencies work with those facing cutoffs to develop payment plans with utilities. The entire LIHEAP program is operating under some uncertainty. Congress has not renewed its authorization, nor has it passed a budget bill guaranteeing its funding. The latest $17-Million allotment of federal funds is coming in under a continuin resolution, which holds this year’s spending at last year’s levels.
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