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CAC Offering Energy, Utility Payment Assistance for Low-Income Families

Assistance provided at no charge to qualifying households

By Tami Snow for the Community Action Commission of Santa Barbara County |

Families in Santa Barbara County who qualify can receive a one-time utility assistance payment for their gas or electric bill, free safety testing on home gas appliances and home weatherization services.

This assistance is provided at no charge to qualifying households and is especially timely given high cost of energy and current economic conditions throughout Santa Barbara County.

The goal of the Community Action Commission of Santa Barbara County is to help eligible low-income families and the most vulnerable citizens throughout Santa Barbara County. Nineteen percent of the county’s population is in need of assistance and has seen steady growth with poor economic conditions.

The most needy low-income earners are seniors older than age 60, families with children younger than age 5, and the disabled. Qualifying for the energy assistance and weatherization programs are based on household income. For instance, a family of four with two children with an annual household income that does not exceed $47,200 or a single adult earning less than $24,544 annually.

“Every now and then hard working people may experience financial hardship and sometimes you just need that little extra help in paying bills and preserving and maintaining a warm and safe home,” said Mike Culbertson, CAC Energy Services director. “You should never hesitate to see what assistance programs are available. It is what our tax dollars are paying for.”

The CAC Energy Services Program provides energy assistance payments to eligible households to help pay the costs of gas or electric utility bills and free weatherization and appliance safety testing services. CAC Energy Services weatherization includes things such as providing water-saving devices, caulking and weather-stripping, water heater blankets and compact fluorescent lights. Safety measures include providing carbon monoxide (CO) testing to make sure all gas appliances are working properly.

Defective gas appliances will be repaired or replaced depending on funding available and installing a carbon monoxide detector and smoke alarms when required. By the end of the year, all homes and apartments must be installed with properly functioning CO monitors, as mandated by California Senate Bill 183.

“To gain assistance in making your home warm and safe is simple,” Culbertson said. “The process usually takes four to six weeks depending on the current number of applications. All eligible Santa Barbara County households are encouraged to apply for assistance and free weatherization services.”

For more information on energy assistance and free weatherization programs in Santa Barbara County, call the CAC Energy Services Department at 800.655.0617 or 805.964.8857 for an appointment. CAC conducts interviews and takes applications in both English and Spanish.

— Tami Snow represents the Community Action Commission of Santa Barbara County.

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