Keeping Doors Open for LIHEAP In Freezing Rain, Sleet and Snow Storms
Writing and Reporting by Jake Brown
Snowfall hit Arkansas this winter with a fierce blow. As the storm rolled through, community action agencies across the state planned ‘mass intake’ days, keeping their doors and phone lines open to long lines of individuals in need of help from programs like LIHEAP. CAAs processed thousands of Winter Crisis applications and added more hours to their staff programs in anticipation of a storm-driven spike in lines.
Painting a picture in numbers of just how many Arkansas families her state’s LIHEAP program has helped already this winter, Marci Manley, Deputy Chief of Communications for the Arkansas Department of Human Services’ Office of Communications & Community Engagement told LIHEAP.org that the state’s crisis program would assist more than 55,000 families, more than 6,000 households more than in 2017. The increase between 2017 and 2018 demonstrating the ever-growing demand for LIHEAP throughout Arkansas.
Arkansas continues to serve families through the help of allies like the Arkansas Energy Office (AEO), which the state established along with its LIHEAP program “to promote energy efficiency, clean technology and sustainable strategies that encourage economic development, energy security and the environmental well-being for all citizens of Arkansas.” AEO is working on the cutting edge of green technology to help keep long-term energy efficiency goals in focus by better teaming communities to collaborate together toward the same ends. Via its website, AEO explains that it works to offer “help for businesses, communities, and residents through home energy scores, energy performance contracting, partnerships to reduce petroleum consumption for transportation, energy technology loans, weatherization assistance, and other strategies.”
Even as Central Arkansas Now sounded the alarm in late February that “President Donald Trump’s administration is once again calling for the complete elimination of a heating assistance program that helps keep the homes of low-income families warm,” they shined the spotlight on the aforementioned mobilizations of an army of advocates where “once again, program supporters are vowing to fight (for this)…lifeline for the elderly, disabled and others on fixed incomes. The current Winter Crisis Utility Assistance Program is underway.”
Dep. Chief Manley sees the demand for LIHEAP assistance in Arkansas continuing to rise, noting that her office will stay as busy as ever when the summer cooling assistance season begins, a much-needed help for families in Arkansas during the blazing summer months.