Utility assistance program overwhelmed with requests
BATON ROUGE - An influx of residents seeking help paying their utility bills has made it difficult for the city-parish to keep up with all the requests.
On Thursday, East Baton Rouge officials said the increase has pushed the city to expand how the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program is handling requests.
"Bills that may have been in the past just a couple of hundred dollars a month are now many hundreds of dollars a month and that's a concern," said metro councilwoman Carolyn Coleman.
She says requests for assistance with utility bills through LIHEAP, are skyrocketing so much so that appointments are booked solid for weeks.
"You're talking about a backup that some folks may not be seen until the first of the year. Energy is not waiting," said Coleman.
Read the full statement from the city-parish below.
The Office of Social Services is working diligently to provide utility assistance through the LIHEAP program to residents in East Baton Rouge Parish. Requests for assistance has increased significantly due to the pandemic. ?The Office of Social Services is required to provide assistance on a first come, first serve basis which prompted the need for an electronic scheduler. The staff is working until 7:30-8:00 nightly to process applications.
Over 12,000 residents have been assisted since the pandemic. The influx of residents with disconnect notices has been a challenge for our scheduling system. Temporary staff are assisting with prioritizing customers with disconnect notices and scheduling same day or next day appointments to avoid disconnections and help restore disconnected services as soon as possible. Residents with disconnect notices are encouraged to call 225-358-4561 to be placed on a list for an appointment. We ask for the community's patience as we work expeditiously to provide assistance to those in need.