Agency Has Increased Funding For Cooling Assistance Program

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When the thermometer goes up, the lines get long at Hocking Athens Perry Community Action, where Kerri Shaw runs the agency's cooling assistance program.

"Absolutely, yes.  Yes, we are booked solid today, we take walk-ins and then we also have an automated phone scheduling system and our walk-in lines get pretty long when it gets really hot," says Shaw.
The program started June 1 and Shaw says they've given away 400 air conditioning units to needy people in the three-county area.
"We are offering assistance with electric bills, as well as air conditioners and we have ample funding, we think, to make it through the rest of the summer.  The program runs through August 31. We can assist with an electric bill up to $250 and then we also have air conditioning units that we're distributing.  So, the benefit in total is $250," explained Shaw.
Hocking Athens Perry Community Action still has about 400 units available.
Shaw says the Summer Cooling Program has a budget of a little over a million dollars, compared to $120,000 last year.  Shaw says the agency had some carryover funding because of the mild previous winter.  The Ohio Office of Community Assistance extended the funding into the summer program.
"They also expanded the parameters of the program: we're able to assist households that have disconnect notices this year, which is new, and then also households with someone who has a medical need for electricity or air conditioning and seniors over the age of 60," said Shaw. "In addition to expanded guidelines, we also have a month-longer program time because we typically start July 1 and this year we started June 1.  I think the state was really looking at a hot summer and they wanted to be able to assist people from the beginning."
Shaw says the agency normally takes about 75 applications per day.
Participants must meet certain income guidelines.