ST. LOUIS, MO (STL.News) Valerie lost her job of 24 years in November 2018, right before the season’s coldest temperatures hit. “When things happen, you wonder how you’re going to survive,” she said. “I have a daughter, and I knew my bills needed to be paid.”
Then, Valerie said a miracle happened. She discovered the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). LIHEAP provides federal funding to assist families with maintaining or restoring heating services.
Spire has been working with LIHEAP agencies to make more people aware that help is available. More than 830,000 people in Missouri alone qualify for energy assistance based on their income. Yet in some areas, applications are only trickling in. Individuals can apply for funding through their local LIHEAP agency. If a person’s need exceeds the assistance LIHEAP provides, additional funding is accessible through Spire’s DollarHelp Program.
Since 1982, DollarHelp has made it possible for Spire customers to donate $1 each month to help other customers in need. Individuals can contribute online or by checking the box on their Spire bills. In 2018, DollarHelp received more than $1,100,000 in Missouri and $290,000 in Alabama and Mississippi from donations and company matches. LIHEAP agencies distribute DollarHelp funds.
“DollarHelp funds assist hundreds of families with maintaining their gas service,” said Connie Sanchez, Spire community outreach specialist. “This program helps people meet basic needs to live safely and comfortably in their homes during the cold weather months.”
In addition to DollarHelp, Spire partners with agencies to offer services and programs for income-qualified residents to maintain their gas service year-round, including weatherization services, the Red Tag Equipment Repair Program for furnace repair, and the Extra Notification Program for elderly or disabled customers.
“We proactively call customers we think may qualify,” said Julie Trachsel, Spire manager of community services. “Most customers are very surprised by our outreach efforts, but Spire is committed to making sure people are getting the help they need.”
Spire hosts around 80 events each year to help people sign up for LIHEAP services. Upcoming public LIHEAP sign-up events include:
- 10/24: Monsanto YMCA @ 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
- 12/05: Monsanto YMCA @ 9:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
- 12/12: Helping Hands for the Holidays St. Charles 4 – 7 p.m.
For more information about LIHEAP energy assistance in your area, contact 855-FSD-INFO (855-373-4636). To learn more about Spire, visit www.SpireEnergy.com.