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NeighborImpact cuts back power-bill help as funds run dry

Need rises in cold winter, funding doesn't

BEND, Ore. - NeighborImpact announced Monday that the Energy Assistance Program is reducing program appointments and services as funds have been hit hard this season due to prolonged colder temperatures and increased need by clients in the tri-county area.

The funds provided through the federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) have been exhausted this year and there has been no word on if or when the federal government will be releasing additional funds, the agency said. In the past, NeighborImpact has received an additional 10 percent allocation to help clients.

"Our program has been hit hard this season due to the weather.  Between October 1, 2016 and February 8, 2017 we have served 5,226 people in our Energy Assistance program," said Joyce Cranston, Energy Assistance Program manager at NeighborImpact. 

"We have pledged over $1.3 million from our state and federal funding for energy assistance already this season," she said. "These pledges have spent out our federal LIHEAP funds.  We are trying to keep up, but the need for assistance has far outpaced the funding we have available."

Limited funding through the Oregon Energy Assistance program will be available, but only for Pacific Power customers. 

NeighborImpact will continue to receive monthly OEA funding," Cranston said. "However, that funding is restricted to Pacific Power customers and will be available on a first-come, first-served basis each month.  We have also had to reduce staffing and cut back on the number of appointments we take."

Until further notice, NeighborImpact will only be able to assist Pacific Power customers who have a final shut off notice or have been disconnected. Appointments will be available in each NeighborImpact office location and clients will need to call 541-504-2155 to schedule an appointment.   Paper applications are no longer be accepted and staff will not be able to assist clients without an appointment.

For more information or details on the Energy Assistance Program, visit www.neighborimpact.org/services/heat/home-energy-assistance/ or contact NeighborImpact Community Services Director, Lynne McConnel, at 541-323-6569. 

NeighborImpact is a "21 Cares for Kids" partner.


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