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LIHEAP recipients worry about future of program

Thousands of Arkansans could be left in the dark if President Trump’s budget plans takes effect; part of Trump's budget proposal calls for chopping numerous assistance programs including the Low Income Home Energy Assistance program.

Thousands of Arkansans could be left in the dark if President Trump’s budget plans takes effect; part of Trump's budget proposal calls for chopping numerous assistance programs including the Low Income Home Energy Assistance program.

Recipients of LIHEAP tell KATV they don't know what they'll do if funding stops.

The Central Arkansas Development Council serves 12 counties, assisting thousands of Arkansans with their electricity and gas bills. In 2016, the CADC received 33,941 applications, this year alone they’ve received 14,396.

"How bad would it be for you if you didn't have electricity or gas…On a cold morning, it's pretty cold,” said CADC Executive Director, Larry Cogburn.

Cogburn tells Channel 7 News the state receives about $20 million in funding, and about $4.5 million of that is used by his office.

Out of the applications received in 2016, recipients 60 years old and over accounted for 8,668 served; households with children ages 5 and under had 13,856 served; households with below median income accounted for 29,689; and 17,280 included disabled households.

"LIHEAP is actually a life saver, without LIHEAP I wouldn't be able to survive, me and my family wouldn't be able to survive, we would be living with someone else,” said a Benton resident who’s been using LIHEAP for the past seven years; she didn’t want to be identified.

"Right now I have a $500 light bill and I’m disabled and that would take almost my whole check and I wouldn't know how to pay my mortgage, or anything else, or how to feed my kids so I couldn't believe Trump would do anything like that,” she said.

"It's awful easy to sit and say I am able to pay my own bills and these ought to go out and do their own, it's easy to say that, but if you don't have the money, then what do you do?” questioned Cogburn.

Other CADC programs on the chopping block include family development, and the single parent scholarship fund.

Until the budget is finalized, agencies are still operating and accepting LIHEAP applications.

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