Texas Department of Housing & Community Affairs - Building Homes and Strengthening Communities
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 19, 2011
Media Contact:
Gordon Anderson (512) 475-4743

State housing agency moves to restore utility bill payment assistance program to Trans-Pecos region

TDHCA contracts with West Texas Opportunities to help low income residents in four counties formerly served by Community Council of Reeves County

(AUSTIN) — The Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA) today announced that it has contracted with Lamesa-based West Texas Opportunities (WTO) to provide critical utility bill payment assistance to low income residents of Loving, Reeves, Ward, and Winkler counties.

WTO will immediately begin administering the Department’s Comprehensive Energy Assistance Program (CEAP) for residents formerly served by the Community Council of Reeves County, which last week voluntarily relinquished its CEAP contract as well as weatherization and self-sufficiency programs.

Today’s action ensures the area’s low income households will continue to receive assistance with their utility bills and the repair or replacement of inefficient heating/cooling/refrigeration equipment, helping them meet their immediate energy needs, while receiving the case management and consumer education to better manage their future energy consumption.

“TDHCA is extremely pleased to partner with West Texas Opportunities and restore CEAP services to the region, knowing the enormous impact this program has on the lives of low income Texans,” said TDHCA Acting Director Tim Irvine in making the announcement. “WTO has the experience and know-how to administer this complex program, and we are looking forward to seamless transition and the delivery of top quality customer service in an extremely rapid manner.”

CEAP, funded through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, assists low income Texans in meeting energy needs through education and a utility co-payment plan. To qualify for assistance, a household must earn no more than 125 percent of the federal poverty income guidelines, which for a family of four equals an annual income of $27,937.50, and meet certain program priorities.

However, CEAP services have been briefly unavailable in the four-county region since July 14, when the board of directors of Community Council of Reeves County voted to voluntarily relinquish all contracts it held with TDHCA.  That was why TDHCA moved quickly to ensure that the residents of the area receive this critical assistance at this hottest time of year. 

WTO is already providing weatherization services in the region, and Irvine was optimistic that TDHCA and WTO could enter into a contract to continue operating the self-sufficiency program in all four counties perhaps as early as this week.

Prior to entering into this agreement, WTO’s CEAP service area included Andrews, Borden, Dawson, Ector, Fisher, Gaines, Glasscock, Howard, Martin, Midland, Mitchell, Nolan, Scurry, and Upton counties. The organization has administered numerous contracts with TDHCA over the past several years and has an excellent track record.  

For more information regarding West Texas Opportunities, or to find out how to obtain help paying a utility bill, please contact the agency directly at (806) 872-8354.

About the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs
The Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs administers a number of state and federal programs through for-profit, nonprofit, and local government partnerships to strengthen communities through affordable housing development, homeownership opportunities, weatherization, and community-based services for Texans in need.

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