Community Action Center to help residents with heating bills

Program would include utility bill with rent after application process



Community Action Center's Energy Assistance Specialist Hannah Domreis says the CAC's new program would include rent and utility for those who can't afford both at its informational meeting Tuesday at the Neill Public Library.

JAYCE CARRAL, Evergreen reporter

Community Action Center (CAC) is helping Whitman County residents with their heating bills as part of an energy assistance program.

Hannah Domreis, CAC energy assistant specialist, led an informational meeting at Neill Public Library. She said CAC received a federal block grant and donations from Avista, a utility company.

“It’s for helping folks out with those heating bills,” Domreis said. “We have about five different programs we can pull [funds] from.”

She said CAC’s two major programs include the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and Low Income Rate Assistance Program (LIRAP), which is an Avista-customer-only program.  

LIHEAP is funded mainly by a federal block grant, Domreis said. Those eligible must adhere to the program guidelines set by household size and adjusted gross income.

CAC’s programs begin Oct. 1 and end on Sept. 31 of the next year. Applicants must reapply every year for assistance, she said.

“During this time of year, it gets real cold out here and those heating bills skyrocket. You try to keep your home warm but also keep it efficient,” Domreis said. “This gives them a little bit of peace of mind. They’ll be able to keep their house warm, their lights on, and free up some of that money.”

She said those applying for LIHEAP must present official documents of people who live in the household. The necessary documents must include a social security card, photo ID, proof of U.S. citizenship, pay stubs from the previous three months and a heating bill with vendor information and account number.

Domreis said applicants who have their heating included with their rent must bring a receipt of payment or lease agreement. Applicants must also present proof of financial aid and received or paid child support if necessary.

CAC energy assistance employees help applicants with gathering a household’s gross income, she said.

Applicants must schedule an appointment with the CAC office in Pullman, Domreis said. Walk-ins are available every Tuesday in February at Neill Public Library from 1-5 p.m. Appointments and walk-ins are available every Thursday in Colfax.

She said CAC provides applicants with conservation education equipment, light bulbs, plastic window covers and weather stripping.

CAC also has an emergency energy assistance program, Domreis said. Residents who have received a “past due” or “shut off” notice from their utility company is eligible for program assistance.

“Just call in and we will contact Avista and they will turn you back on,” she said. “That program is really cool because it doesn’t have the same type of income guidelines. It’s for anyone that needs the help.”

Domreis said CAC has $340 allocated for their emergency assistance program, and LIRAP is funded by donations from Avista customers.