Funds to help needy pay utility bills almost gone

CMCA expects money to run out next week

Needy Central Missourians struggling to pay utility bills got some bad news Tuesday when the director of energy assistance for Central Missouri Community Action said the agency has only $50,000 left in summer cooling assistance for Callaway County and seven other counties in Central Missouri.

Angela Hirsch, community services director with Central Missouri Community Action, said she expects her agency next week will exhaust all funds available to help people pay summer electric utility bills.

“We have checked with the state and they tell us that no more money is available. It comes from the federal government and they don’t expect any more money will be available this summer for this purpose from the federal government,” Hirsch said.

Hirsch said her agency handles energy assistance programs for the Central Missouri counties of Audrain, Boone, Callaway, Cole, Cooper, Howard, Moniteau and Osage.

For the summer of 2011, the eight-county area received $440,000 in cooling aid. This year the amount it received was $429,503.

“We have only $50,000 remaining. After that is spent, we will no longer be able to help,” Hirsch said.

From June 1 until Tuesday, CMCA has distributed $42,866 in cooling aid to help needy people in Callaway County pay utility bills.

Funding for CMCA was cut in half this year. Rather than reducing aid to clients, most of the cuts came through reductions in administrative staff. For this reason, clients no longer can go to individual CMCA county offices and fill out energy assistance requests. Instead, they must pick up a form locally and mail it to the CMCA office in Columbia, where it is processed.

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