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Shutdown Forces Delay for LIHEAP

The start for LIHEAP in Kentucky is delayed more than a week because of the government shutdown.
The government shutdown is finishing its second week, and because of it, some could be left out in the cold. The shutdown is forcing some Kentucky residents to wait for help with their heating bills. The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program is delayed more than a week, to November 12th. More than 100,000 families in Kentucky depend on LIHEAP to help with their heating bill. But as the shutdown goes on, so do the worries of those who depend on it.

Changing leaves. Cooler temperatures. Just two signs winter is coming. Another sign is higher heating bills.

"This is normally the time where we see a lot of clients walk off the street, asking when the program's going to start," says Kristi Winkler of Audubon Area Community Services.

Winter won't be delayed, but LIHEAP is. State officials pushed the date back eight days from its original November 4th start because of the shutdown.

"A lot of people rely on this to get started at the very beginning of winter," she says."So, it can delay, maybe a month or two, of them being able to apply it to their utility bill."

Winkler says this one week delay can cause problems for some family budgets for the rest of winter.

"They use LIHEAP to balance their budget to where they can keep their rent paid and their mortgage paid," she says.

Winkler says the program's at a stand still since they can't get money to reimburse utility companies. But if the shutdown goes any longer, LIHEAP, unlike winter, may be delayed again. She adds they've put off some preregistration efforts, but there haven't been any word yet on if it'll be delayed again.
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