UCHRA Receives Additional $1.6 Million In Energy Assistance Funding

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Members of the Aging/Community Services Committee review the contract for additional funding for the Low-income Home Energy Assistance Program totaling $1.6 million. Pictured from left to right: Phyllis Bennett, UCHRA Executive Director; Mike Gannon, Chairman of Transportation Committee; Michael Nesbitt, Chairman of Aging/Community Services Committee; and Stephen Bilbrey, Chairman of Board of Directors.

“The Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency has been awarded a significant increase of $1,698,695 for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, $322,411 of which must be matched with non-federal funds,” announced Phyllis Bennett, UCHRA Executive Director.

“The total LIHEAP budget for year ending June 30, 2010 is now $4,181,248,” she continued. LIHEAP provides a one-time per year payment averaging $325 to the primary heating energy provider (electric, natural gas, propane, coal, wood, or kerosene) for qualifying low income households based upon a point system with priority given to households having elderly disabled members and those with children under the age of 3.

“We are delighted that with this funding increase UCHRA will be able to serve more than 3,400 additional households across the region, bringing the total that can be served to over 10,000 for the year,” stated Michael Nesbitt, Chairman of UCHRA’s Aging and Community Services Committee. “However, with the current economic conditions there are more eligible families that will need to be served,” he continued.

“The UCHRA Board of Directors is pleased with the additional LIHEAP funding allocated to the 14-county area,” commented Stephen Bilbrey, Board Chairman. Of the total funding approximately $143,001 will be allocated to Cannon County to serve 348 households. “I am pleased to announce additional funding to provide energy assistance to low-income residents of Cannon County. It is so important to help those people most in need during these difficult times,” Mike Gannon, Cannon County Executive and UCHRA Transportation Committee Chairman stated.

“The additional $322,411 is designated by the State as “leveraging funds,” meaning that for every $1 of non-federal funds UCHRA can generate and document as having been spent to assist LIHEAP-eligible households, the agency will receive $2 of LIHEAP leveraging funds to be used to serve additional households,” explained Lee Webb, Community Services Director. In other words, if UCHRA is able to document the expenditure of $161,206 in non-federal funds used to assist income-eligible households with energy assistance it will be receive the $322,411 of LIHEAP funds, which will serve almost 1,000 additional households. “It would be a shame to not be able to draw down all of these funds when so many families are suffering,” Webb stated.

Some utility companies provide cash contributions that can be used as matching funds, collected through “round-up” and similar programs, directly to UCHRA for the provision of emergency energy assistance. However, non-federal funds do not have to flow directly through UCHRA in order to be used as match. For example, if a church, civic club, or local charitable organization assists households in paying utility bills and will provide the names of the recipients and amounts of assistance, UCHRA will determine if the expenditures can be utilized as leveraging match. Additional LIHEAP funds earned will be used to assist families in the counties where the matching funds were generated.

Organizations and individuals who are interested in assisting UCHRA to generate the matching funds necessary to earn an additional $322,411 to assist low-income families with heating expenses this winter are encouraged to contact UCHRA’s Cannon County office at 615-563-2916.
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