$3.54 million awarded to help low-income residents in northeast Alabama pay utilities

Northeast Alabama

NORTHEAST Ala. – It has been a cold few days in northeast Alabama and that has residents cranking up the heat. However, some residents cannot afford to do that.

The Community Action Agency of Northeast Alabama (CAANEAL) was recently awarded a $3.54 million grant by the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs.

“It can be very expensive for the lower-income because it uses a larger portion of their household income that comes in, so it can be up to 40% of what they’re monthly income would be just for utilities,” said CAANEAL executive director Kevin Abbott.

CAANEAL helps more than 11,000 low-income residents pay for utilities.

“This just helps them to where they don’t have to take their basic needs away, their nonessential medicines or do without food or whatever just to get their LP tank filled or their heating where they can heat their home,” said Abbott.

The grant funding comes from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program.

Abbott told WHNT News 19 they can help low-income residents twice a year, once during winter and again in the summer, based on federal regulations.

He added that those in a crisis situation can be helped up to four times a year.

“If they have a child five and under in the household, or if they’re elderly, or if they have a medical condition, that is considered a crisis,” explained Abbott.

Abbott said they provide the money to the utility provider rather than the person in need.

CAANEAL is one of 21 agencies across the state getting grant money to help others.

Abbott said they help with whatever kind of heat source those in need use whether it be gas, electric, or even wood-burning fireplaces.

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