Assistance with utility-bill payments offered to local low-income residents

By Steven Piper
Editorial Intern

Low-income families living in the East Los Angeles County area will have the chance to ease their energy expenses as a $17-million one-year contract, which has been awarded to Long Beach Community Action Partnership (LBCAP) by the California Department of Community Services and Development (CDCSD), will become effective on July 1.
The contract is expected to create 60 million jobs and provide aid to 20,000 households in the service area, which extends from Palos Verdes to La Verne. “It is one of the largest energy contracts awarded in the state and one of the largest awarded to any nonprofit in Long Beach,” said LBCAP Executive Director Darick Simpson.
Statistics provided by the CDCSD indicate that most families spend 3.5 percent of their income on energy, and low-income families spend 14 percent. According to Simpson, out of the 3 million people living in the service area, 500,000 of them are near poverty standards.
In order to be eligible for the support programs that will be offered, recipients’ incomes must be within 200 percent of the national poverty line, which depends on how many members are in a family. (Poverty guidelines can be found on the US Department of Health and Human Services website.)
A host of additional organizations will assist in funding and operating the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which consists of three services: utility bill payments; weatherization services to improve energy efficiency; and critical heating and cooling services.
If residents are unable to pay utility bills and their services are shut off, for example, LBCAP can pay the bills. “Once they pay the bill, they will ask them as a condition to attend an energy education session,” Simpson said. “We educate them about energy conservation and how they can reduce their energy consumption.” Payments will be made directly to the energy provider. Funds will not be distributed to the residents.
The Department of Energy’s Weatherization Assistance Program for Low Income Persons will supplement LIHEAP with funds for the weatherization program while the Los Angeles Conservation Corps Network has teamed up with LBCAP to form the Eastern Los Angeles Energy Assistance Team (ELEAT), which will provide the actual services.
The contract was announced during a press conference Thursday, June 3 at LBCAP’s offices at 3012 Long Beach Blvd. A list of cities to be serviced by the contract is available at LBCAPS website

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