Athens Review, Athens, Texas

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December 30, 2009

Henderson County awarded state funds for energy assistance

Henderson County will benefit from Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs Funds released Monday to 50 cities, counties and nonprofit organizations in the state.

The TDHCA has awarded $4,176,000 to Community Services Inc., in Corsicana to help pay energy bills for low-income residents living in Anderson, Collin, Denton, Ellis, Henderson, Hood, Hunt, Kaufman, Navarro, Palo Pinto, Rockwall and Van Zandt counties. 

The money coming to Community Services is part of $117.4 million in energy assistance funds available to the state. The allocation is designed to help low-income Texans with consumer education and case management needed to reduce their dependence on future government assistance.

The funds were awarded through the Department’s Comprehensive Energy Assistance Program, a utility co-payment assistance program that also helps eligible households better manage their energy consumption for a safe, affordable environment. Funding contracts are effective Jan. 1.

According to a statement by Michael Gerber, TDHCA Executive Director, CEAP plays a critical role in the Department’s mission of fostering affordable housing because energy costs consume a much greater percentage of a low-income family’s annual income than that of the average Texas household.

“The cost of heating and cooling a home significantly impacts a low-income household’s ability to afford their home,” Gerber said. “This important funding award will help our most vulnerable residents, particularly elderly persons and homes with very young children, meet their utility costs, and avoid a potential health or financial crisis. Our goal is to help low-income Texans pay their bills in the short-term, while helping them achieve self-sufficiency in the long-term.”

Studies indicate that the average family in Texas spends about 3.7 percent of their annual household income on utility costs, while low-income households can spend as much as 12.2 percent of their annual household income to pay their utility bills.

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