News Release

Lifeline for the Empowerment and Development of Consumers, Inc.
PO Box 496, Painesville, OH 44077
Contact: Carrie Dotson | (440) 354-2148 |

Home Energy Assistance Program Winter Crisis Concludes March 31

March 17, 2017
PAINESVILLE, Ohio—As winter wraps up in northeast Ohio, so does the Winter Crisis Program, which began distributing funds to help pay for heating on Nov. 1 and concludes on March 31.

Even though we’ve had a relatively mild winter in Lake County, as local residents begin to receive the larger utility bills for the coldest winter months, the demand for assistance has remained steady.

“Our staff has completed applications for 921 Lake County households since November 1,” said Carrie Dotson, Executive Director of Lifeline, Inc. “While it was warm for so much of the winter, we have had some really cold spells and the bills are accumulating for so many of our customers.”

Of those 921 applications, 770 have been approved for assistance. Nearly $190,000 has already been allocated to help those in need since the program began November 1.

Lifeline, Inc. and Ohio Development Services Agency will help eligible Ohioans stay warm during the cold winter months. The Home Energy Assistance Winter Crisis Program provides eligible Ohioans heating assistance if they are disconnected from their heating source, threatened with disconnection or if they have less than 25 percent supply of bulk fuel. The program runs from November 1, 2016 until March 31, 2017.

To qualify for the Winter Crisis Program, a household must be threatened with disconnection, have been disconnected or have less than a 25 percent supply of bulk fuel. The household must also have a gross income at or below 175 percent of the federal poverty level. For a family of four the annual income must be at or below $42,525.

Individuals interested in receiving Winter Crisis assistance must have a face-to-face interview at Lifeline, Inc. Customers must bring the following items to their appointment:

  • proof of ALL household income for the last 90 days
  • copies of their most recent energy bills
  • photo ID
  • list of all household members with Social Security numbers and birth dates
  • proof of U.S. citizenship/legal residency for all household members

Documents that are accepted to prove citizenship/legal residency include: a Social Security Card, birth certificate, U.S. Passport, naturalization paper/certification of citizenship, permanent VISA, and INS ID Card.

Ohioans also have the option of enrolling in a longer-term plan, PIPP Plus, which allows them to pay a percentage of their income rather than high bills they cannot afford. Under PIPP Plus, customers pay 6 percent of their monthly income or $10 a month, whichever is greater, to both electric and gas utilities. Customers in all-electric homes pay 10 percent or $10, whichever is greater. This stays the same for 12 months and then income is rechecked. The key to this program is keeping up with on-time payments, said Marina Rivera, Energy Programs Coordinator at Lifeline, Inc.

“For each on-time and full monthly payment, PIPP Plus customers see a credit on their bills for their current balances and a credit toward their accumulated arrearage,” Rivera said. “PIPP Plus helps customers eliminate old utility debt and avoid new utility debt.”

To be eligible for PIPP Plus, customers must have a household income at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty line and be a customer of a regulated gas or electric company. Any adult household member reporting zero income may be asked to provide tax documentation as verification. The program is administered by the Ohio Development Services Agency and the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio.

The Emergency HEAP Winter Crisis Program (WCP) began on November 1, and runs through March 31, 2017. Lifeline, Inc., Lake County’s Community Action Agency, will again administer the HEAP WCP for the 2016-2017 season.

All appointments through March 31 at the Lifeline Energy Office are booked up, but walk-in hours are still available. In order to help those who have a critical energy situation, Lifeline’s HEAP program hosts walk-in assistance every Monday, Wednesday and Friday beginning at 7:30 a.m. The automated line, 1-866-223-1471, can provide callers a list of the required documents needed to complete an application.

All walk-in sessions are on a first come, first served basis. Only customers who meet the eligibility requirements and have all required documentation will be able to complete their application process that day. All others will be asked to return on another day or encouraged to schedule an appointment.

To learn more about these programs, contact Lifeline, Inc.’s Energy Assistance Office at (440) 350-9160. Lifeline’s Energy Assistance Office is located at 54 S. State Street, Suite 303 in Painesville.

Lifeline for the Empowerment and Development of Consumers was founded in 1973 with the mission of helping Lake County residents by providing them assistance and life skills programming that is designed to increase self-sufficiency. In 1980 Lifeline became a participating agency of the United Way of Lake County, UWLC, and in 1987 was designated a community action agency by the Ohio Development Services Agency, ODSA.  In 2008, Lifeline was designated as a mental health agency by the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services.

Today Lifeline continues with the same mission of helping Lake County’s low-income residents break the cycle of poverty and make the transition from agency-dependency to self-sufficiency. Lifeline’s current programming includes services in the healthcare, housing & energy assistance, information & referral services and consumer education & job training areas. Our motto is ‘helping people, changing lives.’ Lifeline is currently funded by the UWLC and by grants through the ODSA, the Lake County Board of Commissioners, the Lake County ADAMHS Board, Lake County Department of Job & Family Services, the City of Mentor, the Western Reserve Junior Service League and through private donors.

One Victoria Place | Suite 265A | Painesville, OH 44077

Community Services: 440-354-2148

Energy Assistance: 440-350-9160