In 2009, 4.3 million households experienced utility shutoffs, according to the National Energy Assistance Directors' Association. Millions more experienced difficulty paying their bills and suffered arrears on average of $276. The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, among others, makes direct payments to utility providers, and Pasco County, Florida offers several options for assistance.
The Pasco County Human Services division provides limited payments to qualified Pasco residents. The Emergency Home Energy Assistance for the Elderly Program offers funding to individuals 60 years of age and older twice a year. The general utility assistance program helps residents avoid utility shutoff once every 12 months. The programs may require applicants to enroll in a budget plan -- which helps anticipate monthly payment amounts -- with their electricity provider.
The United Way of Pasco operates the Energy Neighborhood Fund, which provides assistance for electricity and gas services. The programs work with agencies throughout the county to provide funding to qualified applicants. Applicants can call United Way of Pasco at 727-845-3030 to inquire about the application process.
Several other organizations offer assistance to those with a demonstrable need. The Daystar Hope Center of Pasco County, Inc. provides funding for utilities, rental payments and prescription medications. Mid-Florida Community Services administers the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP, in east and west Pasco. Christian Social Services provides general financial assistance and funding for Progress energy customers and qualified applicants. Pasco residents can dial 211 to request the contact information for each organization.
In order to qualify for energy assistance, applicants must meet the requirements for each program. Requirements vary, but typically an applicant must provide a utility shutoff notice and proof of limited income. For example, Mid-Florida Community Services requires proof of income at or below 150 percent of the poverty level, a current utility bill and two forms of identification. Applicants can contact the organization or program administrator to inquire about the guidelines.