The Community Action Partnership of Oregon has released its “2009 Oregon Low- Income Energy Assistance Snapshot: The status of low-income energy assistance programs in Oregon during the week of January 12 - 16, 2009.”
Among the report’s findings:
- Agencies report that even with increased energy assistance funding from LIHEAP as well as utility ratepayers, there still remains insufficient funding to meet the needs of low-income Oregon households. Agencies estimate they will be able to serve only about one-half of those eligible. (The maximum income level is 60 percent of state median income—$20,228 for one person, $38,899 for a family of four.
- Compared to this time last year, applications for energy assistance had risen by over 25 percent.
- Over 9,000 households were on waiting lists for assistance with thousands scheduled for appointments through February. (This number is significantly understated because many agencies do not keep waiting lists.)
- Many applicants have a utility shutoff notice or are currently disconnected from utility service. Compared to this week in 2008, there had been a 55 percent increase in applicants who were already disconnected or who faced imminent disconnection.
- Many households had experienced unexpected income losses, and, as a result, were first-time recipients.
- Updated 2000 census figures show that 12.9 percent of Oregon’s 3.7 million residents, or nearly 477,000 people, had incomes below the federal poverty level.
One section of the report details the steps agencies have taken to increase their capacity to deliver increased amounts of assistance to more clients. Also included is a brief summary of the process agencies employ in helping clients in the application process. The report also includes statistics from the various agencies and human-interest stories.