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As temps soar, federal assistance can help Central Florida seniors stay cool in their homes

A program helps financially struggling families with seniors in the home keep the AC on.
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A program helps financially struggling families with seniors in the home keep the AC on.

As soaring temps drive utility bills higher, the Senior Resource Alliance is emphasizing that help for some families in Orange, Osceola, Brevard and Seminole counties struggling to pay those bills.

Alliance President and CEO Karla Radka said qualifying households can get help with AC repairs, utility bills and other heating or cooling needs through the Emergency Home Energy Assistance Program for the Elderly.

"Right now, especially while we are facing a heat wave and summer months," Radka said, "it's so important to ensure that seniors are comfortable and that those energy bills are paid on time and that there are no disruptions in services."

Households with a member 60 years of age or older can receive up to $5,000 for multiple utility bills. There are household income requirements.

Radka said the federal grant of a half million dollars a year has been an "incredible blessing" for Central Florida.

"This past year, we actually helped 1,755 seniors," Radka said. "Those are families in our community that have benefited from this program.

SRA provided this informatoin who may qualify for assistance:

  • Applicants must be age 60 or older and reside in a home located in one of the following counties: Orange, Osceola, Brevard or Seminole.
  • Energy bill does not need to be in the elder’s name, but the elder will need to provide proof of residence, such as a driver’s license or other identification.
  • Applicants age 60 and older with at least one household member who is receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Supplemental Social Security (SSI), and/or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) must provide proof of additional benefits such as an award letter, in addition to documentation of total household income. 
  • The applicant must be experiencing a home energy crisis (disconnected, delinquent, or past due).

The federal assistance is also available through other area agencies on aging around the state.

Joe Byrnes came to Central Florida Public Media from the Ocala Star-Banner and The Gainesville Sun, where he worked as a reporter and editor for several years. Joe graduated from Loyola University in New Orleans and turned to journalism after teaching. He enjoys freshwater fishing and family gatherings.
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