Low-income residents left in the cold after state program cut


ABILENE, Texas - Thousands of people call 2-1-1 Texas A Call For Help each year in the Big Country, and one of their top requests is help paying for electric service.

Program director Mary Cooksey said now that LITE-UP Texas, a state-funded program for low income families, has been cut, they're seeing more calls as the temperatures drop..

"When LITE-UP Texas went away, there were hundreds of households that immediately had a 25-percent increase in their electric bill," Cooksey said.

The LITE-UP program was cut back in August. The families who qualified are people who received Medicaid and Medicare.

"A lot of households in a pretty serious bind," she said. "Some of them are coming through it okay, some of them are still trying to figure their way through it."

This past December, 2-1-1 received 2,697 calls and assisted a total of 229 people with electric payment assistance in the 19-county area.

"A lot of need and not many resources so we've got this huge funnel that's just going down," Cooksey said.

Cooksey said when programs get cut, they lean on teaching energy-saving tips and utilizing outside resources like churches.

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