Apply early for home heating assistance

The application period for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) opened on November 1, and we encourage residents to apply soon.  The federal funding for the program was cut almost by half, and as a consequence the available funds will run out quickly.

As a consequence of the funding cuts, there are a number of changes in LIHEAP.  Changes include income guidelines, which have been raised, and the amounts granted will be smaller (the previous minimum was $300, now it’s $100.)  The Tribune-Review ran a good article two days ago that reviewed the changes in LIHEAP and discussed the impact of the funding cuts.

Online application for LIHEAP is through Compass, the state human services assistance site.  Click here for information, and here is the application.  You can also apply in person, at the Human Services Building, One Smithfield Street, 1st floor; or by mail.  To get an application, print the online form, or we can print one for you at the PHCA office.

Please vote "Yes" on the library initiative on Election Day, Nov. 8

Election Day is Tuesday, November 8, and there’s an important initiative up for voters to consider.  Councilman Patrick Dowd has been talking about Our Library, Our Future at Council to Go meetings for months now.  The initiative was actually born when he asked a question at a Polish Hill Council to Go meeting last year:  “Would you pay slightly higher taxes to help support the Carnegie Library system?”  Residents at the meeting said, “Yes, we would be happy to do that”.

Residents across the area responded in similar fashion.  Particularly in difficult economic times, people see the library as an essential service and support system.  Not only is it a place to get books, magazines, music, movies and more; it’s a resource for job seekers, a place where you can use a computer, get assistance and find information on any topic imaginable, and a place with a wide variety of programs for adults and kids.

The tax increase would be tiny –someone whose house was worth $50,000, would pay about $12 more a year.  This seems pretty reasonable for a system that produces tangible benefits to residents (and provides jobs as well).  Please consider supporting the library initiative.  And no matter whether you decide to support the library, we hope you get out on Election Day and vote — it’s more important now than ever.

For those new residents who haven’t voted here before:  Polish Hill’s polling place is in the Immaculate Heart of Mary Church Rosary Hall.  Enter via the door next to the church yard, on Brereton Street.

Cold weather home resources for low-income residents

Remember this?  Snow and cold?  An article in the Post-Gazette today reported that AccuWeather is predicting a colder-than-average winter, especially through the early months of the season, November through December through about early January.  Although we are currently enjoying beautiful, mild weather, it’s not too soon to start thinking about weatherizing your home for the winter months.

For low income residents, there are a few good resources for help in making your home cozy and safe for the winter.  Action Housing provides weatherization assistance for low income residents (the income ceiling is 21,660 for a single person, $29,410 for two, and $44,100 for a family of four.  These services are for anyone who qualifies and applies in time — you don’t have to own the home.  After an assessment, approved contractors do the necessary weatherization repairs to make your home energy efficient.  Services include:

— Replace cracked or broken glass in windows
— Caulk/Weather-strip around windows
— Weather-strip around outside doors
— Re-glaze windows
— Replace or install threshold and door sweeps
— Insulation blanket around hot water tank
— Insulation wrap around exposed pipes
— Insulation/attic area (where applicable)
— Safety Check on Heating Plant and Hot Water Tank

Check Action Housing’s program page for more information.  The information on the weatherization is about three-quarters of the way down the page.

Another resource is the Low Income Heating Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which is administered through your energy provider.  If accepted, a grant is directly applied to your account as a credit.  The LIHEAP program hasn’t yet opened up the application process for this winter; typically, the application become available in early November.  We’ll do a post here when that goes up.

(photo from February 2010 by Leslie Clague)

Be Well! Health care options for the uninsured

Be Well! started out a few years ago as a small booklet funded by a grant from the Sprout Fund. Now, it’s a growing resource of information for all sorts of health care options for uninsured people, from clinics to alternative health care, dental services, foreign language information, veterans care, women’s health care, and much, much more.

The site not only is intended to be a community resource, but it also encourages visitors to get involved in the political efforts to improve health care access and provides information about activism and self-care.

This is a great resource provided in a true community spirit.  We encourage you to check it out!


Blanket & Winter Clothing Drive for Jubilee Association

Allegheny County’s Ninth Annual Blanket & Winter Clothing Drive to benefit the Jubilee Association will be held Wednesday, November 17, through Friday, November 19.  Blankets and warm clothing will be collected in the lobby of the County Office Building at 542 Forbes Avenue in Downtown Pittsburgh from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. each day.

Allegheny County executives say they are proud to once again partner with the Jubilee Association, which has been a consistent source of essential services and resources for those in need.  During the last eight years, the community has donated truck loads of items, which have been distributed by the Jubilee Association.  Executive Director Sister Liguori Rossner says they will need additional assistance this year.

“We have seen more needs surfacing as the economy tries to recover,” said Rossner. “We are seeing more people come in for assistance who are not our regular visitors to the soup kitchen.  Some have lost their jobs and are waiting for their unemployment compensation to begin.  They need help with basic needs as they fight to hold onto their homes.  We are very grateful for the generosity of those who continue to donate gently-used and new items.  They do make a real difference in the lives of others.”

The Jubilee Association began as a soup kitchen in Downtown Pittsburgh 31 years ago.  Today, it continues to serve hot meals year round and also provides a health clinic, job center, adult education program, child care center, food bank, and prison ministry at the County Jail.

Polish Hill residents may know that Jubilee Kitchen runs a food pantry at 3103 Brereton Street.  They distribute on Wednesdays; for more information, call 412.683.0739.

UPMC Walk-in Primary Care Clinic Offering Free Flu Shots

For most adults, especially those over age 65 or with chronic health problems, flu shots are recommended to prevent serious complications from influenza. This year, the UPMC Walk-in Primary Care clinic located at 2000 Mary St., South Side, will offer free flu shots throughout the month of November. Clinicians will provide shots every Tuesday and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Flu shots also are recommended for health care professionals; residents of nursing homes or extended care facilities; adults with chronic heart or lung diseases or metabolic disorders such as diabetes; children with chronic heart or lung diseases or metabolic disorders; and people with HIV.  Those who are allergic to eggs or who have an active cold or flu should not get the vaccine.

It takes approximately two weeks from the time of injection for the body to develop antibodies to effectively combat influenza. The vaccine provides protection for about six months.

Side effects of the vaccine are rare, occurring in less than 5 percent of those who are vaccinated, and can include tenderness at the injection site, a possible low-grade fever that begins about six to eight hours after injection, headaches and muscle aches.

For more information, please call (412) 488-5705 or check the UPMC website.

Domiciliary Care, a new program from Allegheny County Dept. of Human Services

Allegheny County Department of Human Services Area Agency on Aging (AAA) is now recruiting both home providers and residents for its Domiciliary Care (Dom Care) Program. Dom Care is a foster care program that allows caring individuals to receive a monthly payment in return for providing a safe home to older adults, or younger adults with special needs.

To become a Dom Care provider an approval and certification process must be completed. It includes home inspections by both a care manager and the Allegheny County Health Department. Providers are also required to have certification in First Aid and CPR. Additionally, they must present personal and financial references, submit to a police record search and obtain a medical clearance from a physician. Care managers are available to help applicants through the process. Anyone interested in becoming a resident in a Dom Care home can inquire on their own or they can be referred by someone else – including family members, health care professionals or agencies that serve people with disabilities.

In return for the room, board and personalized care they receive, Dom Care residents pay a set monthly fee. Those who are on a limited income, such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI), may be eligible for a financial supplement to assist with the payment and to assure that they have personal spending money. The benefits of being a Dom Care provider include companionship, support from professional staff, and a monthly payment for the services they give. But most importantly, it is a feeling of satisfaction and well-being for being able to share a warm and caring home. To learn more about the Dom Care Program, to make a referral for a consumer or to find out how to become a provider, call the Allegheny County Department of Human Services Dom Care Program at 412-350-5105 or visit the Allegheny County website.

LIHEAP accepting applications starting Nov. 1

Do you have trouble paying your heating bills?  The Pennsylvania Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) helps low income people pay their heating bills through home heating energy assistance grants and crisis grants. You need not have an unpaid bill to receive home heating energy assistance. You can receive this money without being in the Cash Assistance program — a family of four with an annual income of up to $35,280 can qualify for assistance. No lien is placed on your property if you receive this help.

LIHEAP applications will be available when the program reopens on November 1.  The Department of Public Welfare may extend or shorten the program depending upon the availability of federal funds.

The fastest way to apply is through COMPASS, the online resource for cash assistance, food stamps, help with child care, health care coverage, home heating assistance (LIHEAP), school meals, SelectPlan for Women and long-term living services.

For more information, please contact Allegheny County Department of Human Services,1-800-851-3838 or contact the LIHEAP hotline at 1-866-857-7095, Monday through Friday (individuals with hearing impairments may call the TDD number at 1-800-451-5886).

Additional money may be available if you have an emergency situation and are in jeopardy of losing your heat.  Emergency situations include:
–Broken heating equipment or leaking lines that must be fixed or replaced
–Lack of fuel
–Termination of utility service
–Danger of being without fuel or of having utility service terminated

Assistance with home heating crisis situations is available 24 hours a day; contact the Allegheny County Department of Human Services at 1-800-851-3838.

NOTE:  As of the time this post went up, the links for DHS/LIHEAP weren’t not working; there’s an error message that they are having problems.  Hopefully this will be cleared up soon.

Children's Services Resource Fair July 30th

The Allegheny County Department of Human Services is hosting a children’s services resource fair on July 30th from 12 – 5 pm at the IBEW Building on the South Side (5 Hot Metal Street).  At this event, families can learn about what programs are available to children.  The event is also a networking opportunity for professionals.

The event is free and open to the public and will have free activities for children.  For more information, call Alexis at 412.350.6697.

Help plan the future of Carnegie Library!

There will be a series of community workshops over the next 6 months to discuss what can be done to ensure that Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh remains operationally and financially healthy. The first set of workshops will be held on May 15, 16, and 17.
Saturday, May 15 ❘10 am – Noon❘at the Serbian Club · 2524 Sarah Street, 15203
Saturday, May 15 ❘2 – 4 pm❘at the Sheraden Senior Center · 720 Sherwood Avenue, 15204
Sunday, May 16 ❘2 – 4 pm❘ at CLP – Allegheny · 1230 Federal Street, 15212
Monday, May 17 ❘6:30 – 8:30 pm❘at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church · 419 S. Dithridge Street, 15213
You may attend any or all of the workshops.  Pre-registration is not required.  Light refreshments will be served.  The agenda of each workshop will be the same, and will include:
1. A Community Briefing, including an update on what’s been happening since December 2009, the decisions that need to be made this year, and the process we’re proposing to make those decisions.

2. Interactive Discussion, where Library staff and Board members are looking to the community to share their priorities and perspectives.

Workshops will also be held in July and September as CLP moves through the process.  At each workshop they will demonstrate how feedback from the Community Conversation has been considered as decisions are made.
For more information about the workshops, please visit the Carnegie Library website or  contact Maggie McFalls, Community Engagement Coordinator, Office of External and Government Relations, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. You can email Maggie or call her at 412.622.8877.
Above photo:  Conrad Wypychowski of Polish Hill at the Carnegie Library in Lawrenceville, by Post-Gazette photographer Robin Rombach.  This photo accompanied an October 2009 article on the library’s funding woes.