Utility assistance program seeing highest demand in 5 years - KCTV5

Utility assistance program seeing highest demand in 5 years

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KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

As temperatures begin to drop, tens of thousands of metro residents turn to utility assistance programs like Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program for help.

It's a federally funded program through United Services Community Action Agency.

The demand is so high, some say they haven't been able to reach a live person at USCAA to set up an appointment, which customers must do to get on the program.

"It's very, very frustrating because there are those of us out here who really need the assistance, we're not riding the system. But we need the assistance. And it's going into winter," said one woman who wishes to remain anonymous.

USCAA said it set up the call center after unmanageable crowds gathered at its administrative offices two years ago, forcing people to stand in line outside in cold weather.

But there are only two to three call center representatives answering the daily 10,000 to 15,000 calls.

"The call will roll over to voicemail but we are asking individuals not to leave a voicemail," Tawana Woods, manager of LIHEAP for USCAA, said.

Those who need assistance can also make appointments in person at United Services' administrative offices located at 6323 Manchester Ave. in Kansas City, MO.

Paper applications can also be mailed in. People can find those here.

Woods said the October government shutdown is also delaying LIHEAP-allocated funds, meaning some might have to wait for help. The organization is trying to avoid putting people on hold in the cold winter months, but doesn't want to speculate on when federally funding will arrive.

Woods said LIHEAP appointments are already booked through mid-December.

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