CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) — While Southern New England hasn’t seen too many brutally cold days as of late, temperatures will likely begin to fall in the near future.
Many Rhode Islanders depend on fuel assistance programs, including 12 News viewer Kathleen Pares. She said even though her fuel tank is half full now, she hasn’t received fuel assistance funds and is worried about the long winter ahead.
Pares said she she received her renewal application in late August.
“We send them back in with all of our documentation as far as our income, who our heating people are, and how much we spend in heating over the winter time,” she explained.
The applications for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) are sent to Cranston-based Comprehensive Community Action Plan (CCAP) which helps people with fuel assistance and other needs.
Pares said she usually receives a letter of approval by early October, but as November rolled around, she started getting concerned since still hadn’t arrived.
“This money should have been at my heating company by now, and how am I and everybody else going to heat their house when it’s December and it’s getting cold?” Pares asked.
Unable to find answers, Pares wrote into 12 Responds: “We cannot get answers from LIHEAP when we call…they just say “I don’t know” when we call for a status.”
According to a spokesperson for the Rhode Island Department of Human Services (DHS), there hasn’t been a delay in receiving funds from the federal government for these programs.
12 News then went to CCAP to find out what could be causing the holdup.
Sherry Deiz, CCAP’s vice president of social services, said there was a delay in their software and it took a little while to work out the “quirks with the new system.”
Deiz said recipients should start getting their approval letters by the end of the week. Anyone who needs immediate assistance and has already submitted an application is told to contact CCAP and the agency will be “more than happy to contact the vendor and facilitate the delivery,” Deiz added.
CCAP can be reached at (401) 467-9610.
According to the DHS, about 300,000 households benefited from LIHEAP last year.
Anyone can apply through community action programs around the state, and payments go out as early as November. Visit the DHS website to learn more.