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Arkansans seeking electricity assistance as temperatures drop and prices rise

Many are turning on their heat as it gets colder outside. Despite that, a lot of Arkansans are still facing tough times.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark — Many are turning on their heat as it gets colder outside. Despite that, a lot of Arkansans are still facing tough times. They're worried the power company will shut them off because of past due bills.

That includes one Little Rock woman who called THV 11 saying she's had trouble getting assistance.  

Lisa Worthen said she's been keeping her house pretty dim during the daytime, because she wants to conserve energy.  

"Going through the struggle. I usually pay my bills. I'm disabled, and I usually pay all of my bills but things started going up and things happened because of the pandemic and I got a little bit behind," said Worthen. 

She said the Department of Human Resources denied her assistance to their Rental Assistance Program, because her daughter's name is on the bill. 

Worthen said the rules of her house were that after the age of 18, if her children were still living in her home they had to assume responsibility for a bill. 

Her daughter's out of the home now, but she didn't feel the need put the electric bill back in her name. 

"I never switched it over. I can get lights in my name, but why should I have to pay $150 to the light company to switch something over in my name that I'm going to pay for anyway," said Worthen.

She reached out to the Central Arkansas Development Council's (CADC) Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).

Right now, they're in the process of sending out mail invites to eligible Arkansans for their winter program. 

"It helps individuals that are disabled, or elderly, or have a child in the home under the age of 6," said Randy Morris, CADC's CEO.  "We know that there are a lot of impoverished individuals in the 19 counties that we serve and right now with the weather changing and it being cold, they need help more than ever," 

They have a 'regular' program and a 'crisis' program that starts on Dec. 6. The crisis program applies to individuals who are 7-days before being shut-off or are past due. 

You can receive up to $2,000 in aid for the crisis program. The regular program, however, is based on income and household size. 

Worthen unfortunately can't wait until Dec. 6, so she tried the Salvation Army next. They work with Entergy through their "Power to Care" program.

"It's eligible for people if they're 60 or over, if they have someone living with a disability at home, or if they've hit an emergency situation," said Matthew DeSalvo, director of social services with the Salvation Army.

Worthen is eligible, but she faced another roadblock. 

"Salvation Army says they have a waiting list back to September," said Worthen.

DeSalvo said he understands it's not good to have a long wait list, because there's a ton of people in need with scarce resources. 

"We have several grants that we offer that can help people get assistance with their light bills, so depending on where we are and depending on what grants we have, that determines what kind of service we can give," said DeSalvo.

Finally, Worthen called Watershed Human Community Development Agency. They're also helping individuals through Entergy's "Power to Care" program.

Worthen said she tried to call them, but never received an answer. 

After THV 11 contacted Watershed, the director of employment services, Fred Hokes called Worthen and scheduled her to come Thursday. 

Now she's hoping that they can provide the assistance she needs. 

"Water Shed did call, they reached out to me and they said that I can come in fill out the application, but they couldn't guarantee me any help," said Worthen. 

   

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