Local advocates sound alarm on threat to programs that help households keep heat, AC on

Springfield resident Tom Lawson has a fixed monthly income of $1,049 that he splits between paying for his house, car, insurances, taxes, food and medical bills.

In the past two years, a utilities assistance program has helped chip in for heating costs in November and December — months when the 71-year-old retired Drury professor says he’s particularly crunched for money.

Now proposed federal funding cuts threaten the program run by OACAC, which helped Lawson and about 21,000 other low-income households across 10 counties in southwest Missouri last year.

The federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is the primary funding source for local programs that help struggling households with their energy bills, or families whose utilities, including natural gas, tank propane and electricity, are about to be shut off, according to Tommie Trammell who is the LIHEAP director with OACAC.

“You have got to remember this, we have these programs so people will not freeze in the winter, so they don’t overheat in the summer,” Trammell said. “That’s what this is about — saving lives.”

…to continue reading this story, written by Alissa Zhu and published by the Springfield News-Leader on August 20, 2017, follow this link.