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Letters to the Editor - Jan. 23

Human Solutions does help seniors with heat

Each year, Human Solutions provides energy assistance to more than 6,000 households in Mid and East Multnomah County - that translates to more than 13,800 people benefiting from this assistance. We work hard every year to ensure that our energy assistance reaches seniors, people with disabilities and other low-income households. Already this year, we have assisted 3,163 households with energy assistance; at least 30 percent of those households were seniors or people with disabilities.

To ensure that seniors and people with disabilities receive service, Human Solutions conducted six outreach events this year targeted at these groups: three were in Gresham with two of those being at the Aging and Disabilities Services Office; one was at the Mid County Aging and Disabilities Office; one was at the Corbett Grange; and one was in Wood Village.

Our goal is to help Mid and East County residents to stay warm and safe, with their electricity and heat on. We often hear from seniors who tell us about having to choose between paying their utility bills and paying for life-saving prescriptions. We wish that we had the funds to serve everyone in need. However, the funding available is not nearly enough. In fact it is only enough for less than 20 percent of the people who qualify for it.

In terms of Jean McGregor, the 86-year-old woman who wrote to The Gresham Outlook on Jan. 16, Human Solutions has given her energy assistance for several years, and we are resending her application as the first application we sent did not reach her.

Yesterday, the Bush Administration released $450 million in emergency energy assistance funding to be divided among the 50 states. Because we do not have the level of snow, ice and cold weather that they have in the Midwest or Northeastern United States, Oregon will receive less funding than other states. However, with the funds that we do receive, we will provide energy assistance to Jean McGregor and the thousands of people like her in need in Mid and East Multnomah County.

Jean DeMaster

Executive director of Human Solutions