Monday, July 9, 2012

Guillen Announces Funds to Help South Texas Families Cover Summer Cooling Costs

As temperatures and utility bills both continue to rise across Texas, State Representative Ryan Guillen (D-Starr County) today reminded South Texas residents that $97 million in funds is available to help ease the burden of high-energy costs that come with our state's hot summer months.

Help is available through a network of 43 city, county, and nonprofit agencies serving all 254 counties in the state through the Texas Dept. of Housing and Community Affairs' Comprehensive Energy Assistance Program (CEAP).

"South Texas summers often take a physical and financial toll on our communities' most vulnerable residents," said Rep. Guillen. "This program helps income eligible households pay a portion of their utility bills while learning how to better manage their energy usage for a more affordable home environment."

According to TDHCA Executive Director Tim Irvine, CEAP plays a critical role in the Department’s mission of promoting affordable housing, given that energy costs consume a much greater percentage of a low-income household’s annual income than that of the average Texas household.

“The cost of cooling a home absolutely can impact a family’s ability to afford their home,” Irvine said. “This program helps many of the state’s most vulnerable residents, especially elderly persons and persons with disabilities, meet their utility costs and avoid a potential health or financial crisis. Just as important, it can help them achieve greater self-sufficiency in the long term.”

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is the funding source for CEAP through its Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. TDHCA contracts with its network of local government and nonprofit agencies to accept applications for assistance, determine eligibility, and provide direct service to their low-income clients at the local level.

The program assists households at or below 125 percent of the federal poverty guidelines which, for a family of four, equals an annual income of no more than $28,813.

To find the nearest CEAP provider, call toll free at (877) 399-8939 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Callers will automatically be connected with the CEAP provider serving their county.

Callers must use a land-based phone when dialing the toll free number; cell phones will not make this automatic connection. Cell phone users should dial 211 to be connected with their local utility assistance provider.

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