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Heating assistance delayed for some in RI

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – With frigid temperatures in the forecast, some Rhode Islanders are facing a delay in receiving their home heating assistance, the Target 12 Investigators have learned.

The R.I. Department of Human Services administers the federally funded Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) through local community action agencies.

Funds have been sent to five of the six agencies, according to Ashley O’Shea, communications director for the R.I. Executive Office of Health and Human Services. The agency that has not received funding is the Tri-County Community Action Agency, which was formed by a merger of the Tri-Town Community Action Agency and South County Community Action Agency.

“There was an unavoidable delay in contracting with one agency,” O’Shea said, referring to Tri-County. “We anticipate that those funds will be sent to that agency on Friday and confirmation letters will go out early next week enabling the fuel deliveries.”

O’Shea said the delay was caused by the merger of the two agencies. She did not say how many people have been affected by the delay.

O’Shea also explained how the program works. “The federal funds are limited, and so LIHEAP cannot supply fuel for participants through all the cold weather months,” she said. “The program starts at this time each year with the goal of having sufficient funds to ensure that participants have fuel in the coldest months of February and March.”

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