LIHEAP, Senior Jobs Program in West KY Would Lose Funding in Trump's Proposed Budget
A service in west Kentucky that helps low-income families heat their homes faces elimination in President Donald Trump’s proposed budget.
This year, West Kentucky Allied Services distributed federal funds of $1,306,743 to 7,638 households in the Jackson Purchase for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program - or LIHEAP.
LIHEAP is a federal program that operates across the country. In Kentucky, the program helps approximately 150,000 families, according to the state Cabinet for Health and Family Services.
WKAS Assistant Executive Director Tony Dowdy says eliminating funding could put people in a desperate situation. "People are going to find a way to find money to get their electric and natural gas and propane. They're going to find a way. I think there's a possibility of more crime," Dowdy said.
Dowdy said if the program loses funding other area nonprofits like Needline could be “bombarded by clients” and might not have the funds to adequately assist people.
He said he believes there is enough congressional support to uphold funding. "Without us they're going to be trying to depend on other help agencies that don't have enough funding to be able to assist everyone and they would probably reduce the amount they helped each other so they could help more people based on the opportunity of LIHEAP closing," he said.
Senior Community Services Employment Program
Another WKAS service, that provides training skills for senior citizen employment also faces elimination in President Trump’s proposed budget. The Senior Community Services Employment Program trains lower-income individuals between 55 and older to work in nonprofits like senior centers, food banks, libraries, animal shelters and family service centers. The two-year program brushes up existing skills and offers new skills training for subsidized jobs of 20 hours a week.
The program has 24 slots for training across the Jackson Purchase and receives $226,000 dollars from the federal government.
Aging Program Director Jackie Eubanks says it’s geared towards seniors who still need to work and need to supplement - or aren’t eligible for - social security.
“We put them in a training opportunity based on what their employment desires are, kind of what they’re looking forward to try to be able to do and try to get them some updating and skills in those departments," Eubanks said.
Eubanks said many seniors began working before cash registers were computerized or have been homemakers and now need to work and may not have the ‘hard skills’ required to get a job.
She said she feels domestic programs that help older people may be viewed more favorably as something that needs federal funding.
WKAS also offers a westernization program that helps with heat and air infiltration in homes by installing insulation or caulking around windows for energy efficiency. The service operates an Alzheimer's respite and elder home care and formerly operated Kynect before its dismantling.
This story has been updated.