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OACAC Fears Some Will Go Without Propane Assistance

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Millions in federal funds are on the way to help customer buckling under propane prices after Governor Jay Nixon announced the promise Monday.
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Millions in federal funds are on the way to help customer buckling under propane prices after Governor Jay Nixon announced the promise Monday.

The money is actually a restoration of federal funds cut during sequestration.

But, community action agencies, responsible for distributing the funds to their impoverished clients, say they were not consulted about how to allocate the federal energy assistance funds.

They say because of that, they fear some people will go without help and some money might be left on the table.

"The new money is specifically for propane customers," said Ozark Area Community Action Corporation Director Carl Rosencranz.

Rosencranz explained the way the money is allocated may not help as many people in poverty as it could.

"About $10.3 million is going to energy assistance and it's going to be used for, primarily, for propane," he says.

With the funds and the cap being raised on how much a family can receive in a season, families will receive additional assistance.

Rosencranz says the amount given varied by how much the client was allocated based on need, but the lifted cap gives families with propane more room.

"Propane; the standard was $264 to 450 dollars,” says Rosencranz. “The state, with this new money, is doubling the amount. From $264-450 to $528-900."

But, Rosencranz says local community action agencies weren't consulted about how or where the money could do the most good.

"It will be credited to their account even if the vendor doesn't have any propane to deliver,” says Rosencranz. “It just sits there."

Rosencranz says another more flexible program will receive much less funding and did not have its cap raised.

"The balance of the money, about $4.6 million will go to the actual energy crisis program that we operate," said Rosencranz. "However, with the energy crisis program we are limited, evidently by state statute to $800 maximum to pay for people. So, we will only be able to use that $800, not only for propane but for electricity, for gas, even for wood. And once we hit the $800 limit, we're stuck. We stop. So there are going to be people out there that we can't help any more."

Rosencranz says Nixon's announcement Monday also misstated which people are eligible for these low income programs.

"The guidelines, as far as I know, are 135 percent of poverty, they're not 150, they're not 100,” says Rosencranz.

Rosencranz says it is imperative people go through the community action agency that serves there county to determine their eligibility.

Click here to find the agency that serves families in your area. 

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