Community Action offers utility & senior programs


By Jennifer Woods - [email protected]



As part of “Community Action Month,” the social services coordinator for the local Community Action Commission recently shared information with the Record-Herald on senior assistance and utility assistance programs.

That coordinator is Judy Havens.

CAC is located at 1400 U.S. Route 22 N.W. in Washington Court House. As previously reported and according to the CAC website, www.cacfayettecounty.org, “the mission of the Community Action Commission of Fayette County is to combat causes of poverty, expand community services, and implement projects necessary to provide services and further community improvements. Its mission is also to consider the problems concerning youth, adults and senior citizens and deal with the prevention and solving of those problems.

“The development and management of affordable housing for special populations like individuals in recovery from substance abuse or mental illness, victims of domestic violence, the homeless and/or disabled, and low to moderate income individuals, families, and seniors is a specific purpose of the agency, as is the development of income-generating projects consistent with the purposes of the corporation which will increase funds available for services and reduce the agency’s dependence on public funds,” according to CAC’s website.

Three of the utility programs offered are the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP), the Percentage of Income Payment Plan (PIPP) program, and the Low Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP).

Havens said the programs make “it possible for (people) to keep their utilities on, because it makes them more affordable for them. PIPP is based on total household income and sets their payments to one, consistent payment. The main applicant must be 18 or older.”

The household income must be at or below 150% of the Federal Poverty Level.

According to information from Havens, PIPP helps with managing energy bills year-round and the income-based payments are kept consistent.

For homes heated with gas, the monthly payment is 5% of the household income for the natural gas bill and 5% of the household income for the electric bill. For homes heated with electric, the monthly payment is 10% of the household income for the electric bill. The minimum monthly payment is $10.

Once enrolled in PIPP, income must be re-verified each year, and all PIPP payments must be caught up on by that anniversary. Those who do not update household income and/or household members, miss a payment, or do not re-verify income could be dropped from the program.

“HEAP is a one-time benefit that goes toward the heating source to help with the heating bill,” said Havens.

HEAP is federally-funded. The benefit is applied directly to the customer’s utility bill or bulk fuel bill.

In order to be eligible, the household income must be at or below 175 percent of the federal poverty guidelines.

LIHWAP is a newer one-time program that is available to assist with water and wastewater bills.

“We now have water assistance, and it runs under the same guidelines as the HEAP. If they have a disconnect (notice), they need to transfer service, owe something on their bill, or if they are trying to get new service and they have an old bill, we can help with that so they can keep their water service,” said Havens.

Households at or below 175% of the poverty level can get help with disconnects, new service, or transfer of service.

According to www.aspe.hhs.gov/topics/poverty-economic-mobility/poverty-guidelines, as of May 26, 2022:

– A household size of one falls at or below 175% poverty level if the household income is at or below $23,783 per year.

– A household size of two falls at or below 175% poverty level if the household income is at or below $32,043 per year.

– A household size of three falls at or below 175% poverty level if the household income is at or below $40,303 per year.

– A household size of four falls at or below 175% poverty level if the household income is at or below$48,563

For larger household sizes, please view the appropriate PDF at www.aspe.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/documents/4b515876c4674466423975826ac57583/Guidelines-2022.pdf.

Senior programs are available as well.

“We offer homemaker aid program and family caregiver program. The recipient receiving the care must be aged 60 or older, while the caregiver can be any age over 18 years,” said Havens.

The Homemaker Aide Program, according to information from Havens, helps “seniors maintain the independence of living in their own home. An aide goes to the homes of persons age 60 or over who are unable to do their own housework and provides homemaker services. Services include vacuuming, dusting, cleaning bathrooms, washing dishes, mopping floors, laundry and shopping. This is a small program that employs one aide. Program recipients must reside in Fayette County. This is a cost-share program which means, based on income, there may be a suggested portion the client pays toward the service.”

The National Family Caregiver Program, according to Havens’ information, “offers one time assistance with Respite Care and supplemental services such as purchasing medication, house and rent payments, utility bills, food and medical equipment, and much more depending on the applicant’s needs.”

The program offers support services to those who are acting in a caregiver capacity to a person age 60 or over — such as respite care, emergency payments to the client or caregiver, and linkage to other needed services. It is also a cost-share program which means, based on income, there may be a suggested portion the client pays toward the service.

Havens explained the senior programs can vary for different situations, so the best thing to do if interested is to call Community Action and ask to speak with her.

Healthy U is a chronic disease self-management program with two different options.

The “Healthy U Chronic Disease Self Management Program” is a free six-session workshop. The program can help people with diabetes, asthma, arthritis, heart disease and other life-long conditions by helping people find ways to self-manage their diabetes, their pain, their illness without depending on medication.

The workshops are also available to those without chronic conditions who want to be able to help a friend or family member with a condition to better self-manage. While the target audience is anyone over age 60, anyone over the age of 18 can utilize the program.

The “Healthy U Diabetes Self-Management Program” is basically the same as the “Chronic Disease Self Management Program” except it focuses on self management of diabetes only.

Another program is “Matter of Balance,” which is a a fall prevention program. According to the information from Havens, the program is designed to reduce the fear of falling and increase the activity level of older adults who have these concerns.

There will be a series of eight, two-hour workshops in which participants will learn to:

– view falls and fear of falling as controllable

– set realistic goals for increasing activity

– recognize fall risk factors

– engage in range of motion exercises to increase strength and balance

The program workshops are free and, while the program is targeted toward those ages 60 and older, is open to all ages.

Reach journalist Jennifer Woods at 740-313-0355.

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By Jennifer Woods

[email protected]