Indiana struggling to come up with funds for cooling assistance - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Indiana struggling to come up with funds for cooling assistance program

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- It's almost as if the recent harsh winter is biting back in Indiana. The emergency assistance money used to keep lights, heat and air on for people who need it most is gone.

Greer Cowley survives on $1,100 a month. The one-time teacher ended up on disability, living in Jeffersonville's Section 8 housing after suffering two strokes. When she can't make ends meet, she comes to Community Action of Southern Indiana.

"Without them, we wouldn't be able to make it through the winter," Cowley said.

But her safety net has fallen through.

"Propane spiked very high, and that took a lot of money that we would use for the summer program," said Phil Ellis of Community Action of Southern Indiana.

Indiana has run out of money to help people like Cowley pay their energy bills just as temperatures soar during the hottest time of year. The state's coffers have been drained after a winter that seemed unending, wiping out nearly $48 million of Low-Income Home Energy Assistance (LIHEAP) funds.

"I'm concerned about myself and some of my neighbors," Cowley said.

Louisville doesn't do LIHEAP during the summer, though a similar program through the city's Neighborhood Place centers is also running out of money.

"Right now we're not taking any new clients seeking services," said Cassandra Miller of Louisville Metro Human and Family Services.

Fortunately a new fiscal year starts July 1, bringing with it $670,000 in emergency energy assistance. Anyone who met the criteria for LIHEAP in Louisville should qualify -- but the agency took a $150,000 cut in the new budget, meaning less help.

"It is very hard, and we know that families are strapped right now," Miller said. "It's very, very difficult."

These programs exist to prevent the worst.

"Hopefully there won't be any fatalities from heating," Ellis said.

It leaves Cowley asking herself what to cut, when there's nothing left to give.

"It's anxiety," Cowley said. "I mean, all of us are trying to conserve as best we can, but you can only do so much."

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