Phones have been ringing off the hook for months at Big Sandy Area Community Action Program offices as the number of requests for help from the local nonprofit sky-rocketed due to the coronavirus pandemic and the economic hardships it caused.

All told, since April of 2020, the agency has provided $2,744,210 in LIHEAP funds to local individuals and families, filling nearly 14,000 requests for assistance.

The agency finished their fall Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) season on December 11. Through this portion of the LIHEAP program, $542,900 was used to fill 3,058 requests for help from households in need to assist with winter heating costs.

Unusual for the nonprofit, they were able to provide spring and summer cooling LIHEAP assistance this year as well, due to the economic hardship generated by the COVID-19 pandemic. $2,148,889 was provided to local households for these two programs, ensuring that 10,426 requests for energy assistance were filled.

In December, BSACAP exhausted the Healthy at Home funds provided to their agency for distribution. The agency distributed $1,347,320 in Healthy at Home Funds and filled 3,785 requests for assistance across their five county service area.

The Healthy at Home Utility Relief Fund provided relief to Kentuckians affected by COVID-19 who needed assistance with their water, wastewater, electric, or natural gas service. BSACAP partnered Community Action Kentucky and Team Kentucky to distribute these funds in Floyd, Johnson, Magoffin, Martin, and Pike counties.

The agency also used funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to offer additional water, wastewater, and garbage bill assistance to households that had fallen behind on their bills. Across the area, 999 households received $127,629 to help them maintain health and hygiene at home through the agency’s CARES Act utility assistance program.

Through their housing assistance program, BSACAP ensured that 53 men, women, and children were able to gain clean, safe, and stable housing, protecting them both from the elements and from the coronavirus.

BSACAP’s workforce and employment staff members completed well over 10,000 unemployment related tasks. They answered phones, answered questions, assisted with forms, corrected files, and other work as they stepped up to the unemployment crisis the workforce faced since April of 2020.

To assist those who lost their job due to COVID-19, the agency also distributed $25,915 in Team Kentucky Funds to 101 households. The funds were used to assist those impacted by the “stay-at-home” orders to pay their rent, keep their vehicle, and buy groceries and other household necessities.

“This has been a tremendously challenging year for so many people,” BSACAP Executive Director Wanda Thacker said. “Our agency has been running at top speed continuously for about 10 months in order to meet the needs of our communities. We know that we haven’t been able to reach every single person, but thousands of families across the Big Sandy area have been pulled back from the edge of disaster because of this work. We are grateful that we have had the opportunity to provide so many services to local people.”

BSACAP is currently operating the winter LIHEAP crisis season. LIHEAP is funded through Community Action Kentucky (CAK), the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). Funding for these projects is made possible, in part, by Community Services Block Grant with funds made available by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.