Utility assistance available for struggling Calcasieu families

Published 5:02 am Friday, December 3, 2021

The ongoing challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic has some Calcasieu Parish residents grappling with exorbitant utility bills, one official said Thursday.

Tarek Polite, parish human services director, said the pandemic has led some residents to defer their monthly electric bills, causing them to accumulate over time.

“We have seen bills as high as $2,200 or $3,000 for people who haven’t paid for a whole year or 18 months,” he said.

Thankfully, just over $3 million in combined utility payment assistance is available through a federal grant the parish receives annually, along with another allocation that came in earlier this year.

The Police Jury on Thursday approved $1.58 million as part of a Low Income Home Energy Assistance (LIHEAP) agreement between the parish and the Louisiana Housing Corp. The money, which covers electric and gas bills, can be spent over a two-year period, which started Oct. 1 and continues through Sept. 30, 2023.
Polite said the LIHEAP funding is expected to benefit 6,000 Calcasieu Parish households this year.

“With everything we’re going through and the challenges families are facing, having these funds in our parish is important,” he said.

The parish also received a $1.6 million allocation earlier this year through the American Rescue Plan, rolled out by President Joe Biden’s administration. He said households that qualify for LIHEAP funding will receive $1,200 in American Rescue Plan funding.

The amount of LIHEAP assistance a household receives is based on several factors, including utility consumption, Polite said.

To set up an appointment with the parish on getting LIHEAP assistance, call 721-4033.