Less than half the Lucas County households that qualify for help with utility bills are receiving the assistance, officials for Columbia Gas of Ohio and the Economic Opportunity Planning Association said yesterday.
About 20,000 households receive assistance through EOPA on their natural gas bills. As many as 30,000 additional households may qualify, said Chris Kozak, a Columbia Gas spokesman.
Ohio's income eligibility requirement to qualify for the federally funded Home Energy Assistance Program was adjusted last year to enable more people to be helped with winter heating bills.
Households are eligible if total income is at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty guideline, an increase from 175 percent last year. Eligibility is determined by a sliding scale based on household size. For a one-person household, the maximum income is $21,660. For a household of two, it increases to $29,140.
For information or to apply for assistance, people may call EOPA or visit energyhelp.ohio.gov. Mr. Kozak said people who fail to secure assistance before March 31 may risk disconnection of service beginning April 15.