Tuesday, January 30, 2001

County falls behind in race for heat aid




By Dan Klepal
The Cincinnati Enquirer


Special Report
In Sunday Enquirer
        Getting help to poor people with high heating bills has become a race — and Hamilton County is a step behind.

        County officials are scrambling to create a plan for how to deal with the 80,000 people who will qualify for help with their heating bills under a program announced last week by Ohio Gov. Bob Taft.

        The program, called “Project THAW,” is meant to offer one-time help to the poor by paying half of an unpaid heating bill, up to $250.

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        County officials met Monday trying to hammer out an agreement with Cinergy on how to administer the program. Late Monday there was still no decision on where people will go to pick up applications.

        Timing is important because the $45 million in state aid will be handed out to counties first-come, first-served.

        “That money probably won't be enough to go around, so we're rushing as fast as we can,” said Mindy Good, spokeswoman for the Hamilton County Department of Human Services. “We're already working on the application.”

        Butler County already has mailed hundreds of applications to interested residents there.

        Anyone whose income is within 200 percent of the federal poverty guideline — $34,100 for a family of four; $22,500 for a couple and $16,700 for a single person — is eligible.

       



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