Program helps residents struggling with utility bills

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - As the Mercury drops, the cost to heat homes rises. For some tri-state residents, paying those high utility bills is a struggle.

For those struggling to pay high bills, the Home Energy Assistance Program is there to help. HEAP is a federally funded program designed to assist Hamilton County residents with their utility bills.

The program helps out individuals like Keynote Kennedy.

"You know, I keep the oven open to keep warm at night. That drives up my energy bill a little bit more," explains Kennedy. "I'm just trying to get a little bit of help for that."

Kennedy states that she received the help she needed thanks to the program. HEAP has also helped out Veronica Reynolds, who says her power was shut down ten days ago.

"I feel pretty good," explains Reynolds. "It's a relief taken off my shoulder. I know that my babies are going to have somewhere warm now. [I] don't have to depend on anybody."

Carol Withers says she has been without power for about a week. She claims the temperature inside of her Northside apartment has dropped well below 50 degrees.

They disconnected my utilities so I have nothing," says Withers. "I have no heat or anything and it's been very cold."

Withers says HEAP helped get her back on her feet.

Locally, more than 100 people apply daily for the Home Energy Assistance Program. The program can pay up to $175 when power is disconnected. Officials with the program say they may be able to help when utility bills become overwhelming.

"We look at each individual circumstance and we may be able to pay on someone's bill, not necessarily put them on a payment plan with Duke or a program, but we may be able to pay $175 on their bill," explains Dianne Dozier of the Community Action Agency.

Last year, the Community Action Agency was able to help more than 10 thousand people. This winter, they expect to help even more. Due to high demand, HEAP suggests scheduling an appointment early.

To be eligible for the Home Energy Assistance Program, individuals must meet certain income requirements. To learn more about the program, click here:

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