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OACAC offers help for low-income families in paying summer utility bills as well as winter

Published: Jun. 21, 2022 at 5:58 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 21, 2022 at 6:41 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - With temperatures threatening to reach triple-digits this weekend, utility bills will increase. And for those low-income families and individuals who need assistance making ends meet, there is help available.

Ozarks Area Community Action Corporation, better known as OACAC, is a network of non-profit organizations created by the federal government in 1965 to combat poverty.

In their Springfield office, walls lined with “thank you” notes from the many people they’ve assisted remind them of the critical work being done. One of OACAC’s biggest aid areas is the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which helps pay energy bills.

While many people know about the winter program, which helped about 12,000 households pay their heating bills last year, fewer people know that OACAC also offers a summer program that runs from June 1-September 30. So far, it has aided about 3,000 households.

Regardless of whether you’re seeking winter or summer assistance, the first thing you have to do is fill out an Emergency Assistance Program application which is available by calling OACAC (417-864-3460) or going online (oac.ac) and printing an application which can be faxed (417-864-3472), mailed or dropped off (215 South Barnes Ave., Springfield, Mo. 65802) when completed.

“If you have City Utilities, Liberty, Southwest, we cover ten counties, so what we will do is determine your eligibility, the money will go into your account, and each time when you incur a bill, it will be deducted from that amount,” explained Tommie Trammell, OACAC’s LIHEAP Director. “If you’re in a crisis, we try to stop that crisis. If you get terminated, we try to get you back on.”

As to whether or not you qualify?

-- You must have a bill you need to pay

-- You must meet citizenship requirements

-- You must have less than $3,000 in your accounts

-- You must not make more than the income limits, which are:

Household Size Monthly Max Income

1 $2,211

2 $2,891

3 $3,571

4 $4,252

5 $4,932

“I don’t like people putting too much into those federal qualifications because they think they’re not eligible, Trammell said. “But that’s why we’re here. If they pay child support, we’re able to deduct that. If they pay an SMI (Supplemental Medical Insurance) premium or Social Security, we’re able to deduct that. So I prefer people just apply for the program and let us do our job.”

And Trammell pointed to another assistance program that might come in handy during this hot summer.

“Water is very important during the summer months, and we have another program called LIHWAP,” she said. “That is the water assistance program, so you have the right to apply for that one too. It is a separate program with a separate application, but we’ll be here all summer waiting to help unless our funding runs out. But right now, we’re doing well with our funding to take care of people.”

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