Two significant changes have been made in the utility assistance program overseen by the not-for-profit North Eat Community Action Corp.

The deadline to apply for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program has been pushed back from Sept. 30 to Oct. 31 and the eligibility has been increased to 150 percent of the federal poverty level, up from 135 percent. The increase means eligible applicants can qualify for an additional $156 to $322 of assistance, depending upon family size.

“This is good news for people who are applying for summer utility assistance,” said NECAC LIHEAP Supervisor Angela Kattenbraker. “We encourage people to sign up before the extended deadline.”

The agency has about $1.5 million in funding available for the program. The maximum benefit recently was doubled by the Missouri Department of Social Services. The increase was just added in response to the COVID pandemic.

Income qualifications for the 150 percent level are $1,561 per month for a one-person household; $2,114 for a two-person; $2,666 for a three-person; and $3,219 for a four-person. Households also must have less than $3,000 in a bank account. The latest increase will not apply to the winter portion of the utility assistance program, which begins Nov. 1 for the elderly and disabled, and Dec. 1 for other applicants. The 135 percent rate will apply then.

Meanwhile, NECAC continues to take applications for the summer portion of the Energy Crisis Intervention Program (ECIP). It pays overdue up to $600 for income-qualifying households that have received an electricity shut-off notice.

Applications and more information for all of the energy assistance programs is available by logging on to www.necac.org. For more information, call or visit the NECAC Pike County Service Center, 805 Business Highway 61 North in Bowling Green, at 573-324-2207.

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