Agency offering ‘cooling assistance’ to many Oklahomans

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OKLAHOMA - As the thermometer rises, so do electric bills.

Thousands of Oklahomans simply don't have the money to keep the A/C running.

Tuesday is the first day low-income residents can apply for cooling assistance from the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (OKDHS).

Last summer, OKDHS gave out 16 million dollars for cooling assistance.

This year it's 17 million dollars.

Kris Mitchell hopes to be one of those getting help through LIHEAP, the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.

"It's like you can't get a hold on your finances," she said about paying summer cooling bills. "It's really, really hard."

A one person household can expect about $200 through LIHEAP, while a household of two or more can expect a one-time payment of $250.

That's what Mitchell will get as a single mom of two kids.

"You save so much," she said. "You have no idea how much you save. That's 250 dollars that could be spent on other things, like going towards my children, other bills."

To save money on utility bills, their home stays between 75 and 80 degrees.

"But it's so hot," Mitchell said. "I'm trying to be good."

She keeps the lights off, the blinds closed and the curtains pulled over the windows.

There's a swimming pool outside, but even that is off limits.

"It's too hot to even swim right now," she said. "This heat is too much. It's too hot."

OKDHS Spokesperson Mark Beutler said two years ago, the LIHEAP money ran out in three days.

To find out if you qualify, click here or contact your local OKDHS office.

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