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Utility bill assistance in high demand in Lane County

Thermostat on a wall

A program that helps low-income households in Lane County with their utility bills filled up within minutes of opening its wait list this week.

This demonstrates the level of need in the community, according to Lane County Human Services spokesperson Jason Davis. He said the program can save people from losing their homes.

“Oftentimes, households ... are right on the brink of financial insecurity,” Davis said. “One utility bill, especially in the winter months when those utility bills go up can really be devastating and destabilizing, and can eventually lead to a spiral effect that the ultimate outcome is that state of being unhoused.”

The Low-income Energy Assistance program, or LIHEAP, is a federally funded program that covers home heating and cooling costs.

“It helps pay utility bills, providing firewood, pellets for pellet stoves and weatherization,” Davis said. They can provide a contractor to come into a home or apartment to provide weatherization which can help reduce utility bills.

Davis said since October, 2,696 Lane County residents have been enrolled. He said they’ll open the waiting list again on March 1.

Davis added that they’ll keep opening the wait list, monthly, until funds are exhausted.

Rachael McDonald is KLCC’s host for All Things Considered on weekday afternoons. She also is the editor of the KLCC Extra, the daily digital newspaper. Rachael has a BA in English from the University of Oregon. She started out in public radio as a newsroom volunteer at KLCC in 2000.