LIHEAP Assistance Appointments Booked Until January

By: Brad Broders
By: Brad Broders

Phones are ringing off the hook, an agency is already overwhelmed, and David Coffey is an applicant already too late.

"I'm kind of surprised that they are already filled up. I mean there's that many people out here that are needing help," Coffey said.

In less than one day, appointments were locked up in Winnebago County until January 1st, filled with current customers looking for help.

At the Northwest Community Center, staff members tell me they've had 200 requests in just one hour, and the phones continue to ring.

"We don't want to go into a panic mode. It's our intention to run the program well into next spring," Human Services Energy Director Mark Bixby said.

Bixby and LIHEAP staff are already planning their next move to handle an estimated 13,000 to 15,000 people in need.

"We will continue to take applications until we are directed by the state to stop. In prior years even though we've exhausted the initial funds, we've gone ahead, taken the applications, and then funding has gone ahead," Bixby said.

Meanwhile, applicants like David Davis nervously hold on. Davis is looking for work, and with a young son, he's hopeful he can get help, and heat, before it's too late.

"It's too bad that we have to be in this situation that we're in, but we all need some help and everybody this year is going to need some help," Davis said.

Thousands still looking for heating help, LIHEAP leaders planning what step's next to cover an unprecedented demand.


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