BY MELANIE BUCK –
Polk County has been suffering through extreme heat over the last several days and generally, with the heat comes higher electric bills. There are programs available to assist low-income families with higher bills during the summer months.
ARVAC is currently running their summer program for low-income households and can be applied for at the local ARVAC office located at 606 Pine Street in Mena. The program has two divisions. HEAP is the regular program, which takes about 30 days for approval and payment and pays an average of $139, depending on household size and income. The second is the Crisis Program, which is for individuals and families who have a shut-off notice or have been disconnected from their utility. The Crisis Program can pay up to $500 and they try to get service reconnected the same day you are approved.
For the application process, you will need proof of ID, such as a driver’s license or other government issued photo ID and proof of income for anyone in the household ages 18 & older, such as an award letter from Social Security, pay stubs, or a printout from the social security office stating that you are unemployed and are not paying into social security. You will also need to bring your most recent electric bill and gas or propane bill. Gas and propane bills will be kept on file for future programs. These programs will run through August but will end when funding runs out, possibly in September.
Polk County Family Mission, a division of First Baptist Church of Mena, also assists will utility bills. To receive assistance, the group meets on Tuesdays only at the 9th Street Ministries Building, at the corner of Church and 9th from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.