Problems arise in Rockford LIHEAP sign-up - – Rockford’s News Leader

Problems arise in Rockford LIHEAP sign-up

Robert King, executive director of Booker Washington Center. Robert King, executive director of Booker Washington Center.
Dawn Gore Dawn Gore

Illinois cutbacks mean fewer appointments and less help for people who need assistance heating their homes this winter. That is not the only issue people who want to be part of the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) are dealing with.

It took less than two hours for the appointments to fill up at one Rockford LIHEAP site and that was with Booker Washington Center having phone problems.

"Our phone lines were flooded. There's thousands of people who qualify for LIHEAP.  There's more people who qualify for LIHEAP than there were in the past," says Robert King, Booker Washington Center Executive Director.

King says that caused problems with the center's phones. Some lines shut down completely leaving only a few working.  When people started walking in a few got appointments.

"We are not supposed to take walk-in appointment you are supposed to call-in only, but what do you do?" says King.

That bending of the rules had some people very upset.

"I think it would have worked better for first come, first serve as it has in the past rather than to not answer your phones or your phones not be working on the day you are supposed to call. And then the select few that do show up down here earlier, which we were told not to do, get appointments," says Dawn Gore.

"We apologize from the bottoms of our heart, we are doing the best we can," says King.

Booker's Executive Director says he knows there are going to be even more people upset with the LIHEAP process since there are fewer appointments available now than last winter. He says that is because of state funding cuts.  But that leaves people like dawn gore who is disabled and her husband without many options.

"What are you going to do?" asks reporter.

"I have no idea," says Gore.

Booker Washington Center, 524 Kent St., is one of two Rockford LIHEAP sites. The other is Liberty Baptist Church, 3500 Preston St. Sign up for assistance opens back up for appointments next month, November 6th.

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