Tuesday, May 22 , 2018, 11:26 pm | Fair 58º


Agency Fears Budget Cuts Will Hurt Local Low-Income Families

Local services aimed at helping low-income residents and families are potentially on the chopping block under President Donald Trump’s proposed budget cuts.

The national Community Action agencies stands to lose about $3.4 billion nationally, which would effectively destroy its locally implemented programs, namely the Low Income Home Energy Assistance and Weatherization programs (LIHEAP).

Those programs are offered locally by the Community Action Commission of Santa Barbara County (CAC).

CAC provides LIHEAP for Santa Barbara County which can provide a one-time payment up to $300 for non-emergency payment on a wood, gas, electric, oil or propane heating bill.

CAC also can help with a fast-track program that can assist in situations if a resident is in danger of utilities being shut off or have been shut off, paying up to $1,000 toward outstanding bills.

In 2016, CAC assisted 1,404 low-income households with more than $425,240 in payment assistants and weatherized 345 houses. Over the last five years, CAC Energy Services has provided energy efficiency and safety measures to 2,225 homes

“LIHEAP ensures homes are warm and safe by provided lifesaving services to families who are struggling to make ends meets, the elderly, the sick and disabled,” said Kemba Lawrence, director of CAC Energy Services.

Santa Maria resident, Rodolfo Galvan, said, “I feel so much more comfortable in my home. This winter has been so much warmer after receiving a new furnace.

"I also feel safer knowing that CAC was able to detect and fix a leaking gas line my home," Galvan said. "I could not be happier with the work and professionalism of CAC.”

The national budget would eliminate LIHEAP altogether, and the Santa Barbra County weatherization program would no longer be able to provide for those most in need if said budget is to pass.

For more information on the home safety, energy assistance and heating programs in Santa Barbara County, call the CAC Energy Services Department, 800-655-0617.

— Judi Monte for Community Action Commission.

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