Heating Assistance

Michael Clemens was laid off about 2 months ago. And on 99 dollars a week unemployment, he’s worried about staying warm: “I’m basically about ready to get my gas shut off, and trying to get help, and I can’t get any help from anybody.”

Some help is available through ‘ACCESS’ in Jackson County, and ‘Klamath / Lake Community Action Services’ in Klamath County. Program Manager Rob Petchell explains they’ve been busy: “So far in our program year, from October 1st to now, to actually last week, is about 1700 households we’ve served.”

But federal funding for heating assistance has been cut nearly in half – and the agencies can’t help everyone.

Clemens is one of those: “They looked at the papers that I had, asked me some questions, and asked if I had kids – and when I told them ‘no’, they said they wouldn’t give me an appointment or anything.”

While he can’t comment on individual cases, Petchell said he’ll look into Clemens’ claim. “We are seeing a lot of shutoffs, notices, and crisis, needs for crisis payments. We’ve seen a tremendous increase.”

Avista and Pacific Power both say it’s important to contact them first if you’re having a tough time. Toby Freeman of Pacific Power says, “Give us a call – we want to have that conversation soon, because the last thing we want to do is disconnect your service.”

And Clemens says he doesn’t want that either… “I think we all just need to help each other – that’s the solution.”

People in Klamath Falls can go to: www.klcas.org for more information.

In Klamath Falls, this is Lyle Ahrens, NBC2 News.

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