The Ohio Development Services Agency (ODSA) and Highland County Community Action Organization, Inc. are working to help keep Ohioans safe during this time of emergency. Recently, Governor Mike DeWine declared a state of emergency regarding COVID-19, and Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton, has issued orders to limit social interaction to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Effective immediately, Ohioans who are enrolling in the Percentage of Income Payment Plan Plus (PIPP) for the first time, applying for the Home Energy Assistance Winter Crisis Program, or have limited income, are no longer required to visit a local energy assistance provider in order to complete an application. While Highland County Community Action will remain open and willing to provide face-to-face appointments, the agency strongly encourages applicants to utilize the online, mail, or fax methods to limit the potential for exposure.
Ohioans can visit www.energyhelp.ohio.gov to start their application and upload the required documents prior to their appointment. If a you do not have access to the internet and/or cannot upload your documentation, the local energy assistance provider can complete your application over the phone. For a list of required documentation or to schedule an appointment call, 937-393-3458 or 937-981-9718.
“Working with our local providers, we have been providing Ohio families with the support they need to manage their energy bills, and now this support is even more important,” said Lydia Mihalik, ODSA director. “The online application, in a normal scenario, makes it easier to apply and reduces the length of an in-person appointment, but now it is providing a bridge to assistance during an incredibly difficult time.”
Development will also extend the Winter Crisis Program (WCP) until May 1, 2020 to align with the Public Utilities Commission extended Winter Reconnect Order. The regular Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) will be extended until June 1, 2020.
OSDA’s interactive voice response phone lines will not be available. However, Ohioans may continue to call 800-282-0880 and select option 2, to be transferred to their local energy assistance provider.
The Home Energy Assistance Winter Crisis Program helps income-eligible Ohioans pay their heating bills and can assist with fuel tank placement, fuel tank testing and furnace repair. Ohioans must have a gross income at or below 175 percent of the federal poverty guidelines to qualify for WCP and HEAP assistance. For a family of four the annual income must be at or below $45,062.50. Ohioans must have a gross income at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty guidelines to qualify for PIPP. For a family of four the annual income must be at or below $38,625.
Ohioans that have a regulated utility and have been issued a disconnect notice are eligible for a one-time WCP benefit if they have not already received a WCP or regular HEAP benefit.
For more information, contact Highland County Community at 937-393-3458 or 937-981-9718. Additional information can also be found at www.energyhelp.ohio.gov or by calling 800-282-0880.
Submitted by Christi Hauke, Highland County Community Action Agency, Inc.