Summertime is here again, and the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services wants residents to know there are services available for those who need help beating the heat.
DHHS seeks to accomplish this in three ways.
First, the department is trying to help through an outreach program that gives residents cooling fans. DHHS Program Manager, Britton Gabel, explains that the fans are paid for by the department, but distributed through local organizations.
“Different non-profits throughout the state of Nebraska can purchase fans to do outreach to elderly, disabled and low-income families in need,” Gabel says.
He adds that last year organizations distributed 7,228 fans across the state and they plan to give out even more this year. The program is partnering with thirty-two organization in 24 counties. Fans are purchased with funds from the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families.
The second method the department is using to offer cooling assistance is by offering to pay the air conditioning bills of the state’s most vulnerable residents. Gabel says if a resident has an income of at least 130% of the federal poverty level, they can seek the financial assistance as long as they also meet at least one of the following sub- requirements: at least 70-years-old, have custody of a child five or younger, or posses a medical condition aggravated by heat.
Finally, if you receive a shutoff notice from a utility this summer, you may be eligible for financial assistance thought the DHHS crisis program.
“If they have a situation to where they have a disconnect of their electric bill or natural gas bill, which per the federal regulation means they have a crisis situation, they can actually request crisis assistance through the department,” says Gabel.
To take advantage of the crisis program, a person must still have an income of 130% of the federal poverty level.
If you think you qualify for any of these services contact your local DHHS office, go to Access Nebraska’s website, or call 1-800-383-4278 for more information or to request applications.