Friday July 22, 2022

DEO HOMEOWNERS’ ASSISTANCE FUND

The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) has given out $200 million in homeowners assistance, there’s still more to go around — $300 million to be exact. That money is for a program you may not know about.

The DEO is in charge of the Homeowners Assistance Fund, a federally funded program aimed at helping Florida homeowners pay for bills such as insurance, mortgage and utilities. It is designed to help the most vulnerable populations in the state get the assistance that they need,

 more than 11,000 people have applied and more than 6,600 homeowners have been approved for assistance some getting as much as $50,000.

To be eligible, you have to be a Florida homeowner and meet income requirements based on the Area Median Income (AMI). In Lee County, that’s a little more than $66,000, according to the Census Bureau. For Hendry County median household income sits at just under 40,000 per year. However, those numbers are from 2020.

To get the word out, she says they’ve done more than 500 outreach campaigns across the state and said some have been in the Southwest Florida area.

If you want to check your eligibility, DEOSERA.FORCE.com.

HIGH ELECTRIC BILLS EXPLAINED BY LCEC

Air conditioners are working overtime in Southwest Florida, as the area grapples with the hottest month of July in 40 years.

At the same time, power customers are noticing their electric bills skyrocketing.

Inside the offices of the Lee County Electric Cooperative, officials admit the phones have been ringing off the hook from angry customers.

Karen Ryan with LCEC. Says “It is painful for our customers to get that bill. But it’s also painful for us because our hands are tied,” This is something that is out of our control.”

The reason Ryan says prices are out of LCEC’s control is that the company is a distribution cooperative.

The company doesn’t generate its own power, instead it has a contract to buy power from Florida Power and Light.

In June, the LCEC Board of Trustees approved a price increase, the third so far of the year, due to major increases in the price of natural gas which makes up nearly 73% of FPL’s generation source.

In April of 2021, natural gas sold for $2.73 per metric million of BTUs.

One year later, in May, it sold for nearly $9.  A 300% increase for natural gas in the last year,

Unlike other industries that can buy commodities far into the future to help control the costs to customers, the co-op is charged based on the amount of power used.

June the LCEC spent more than $20 million more on power than they charged their customers.

“The power cost adjustment allows LCEC to recover those costs,” said Ryan.

As far as when rates might go down.

“The experts are saying it is going to last a little bit longer.

SHOOTING IN PALM BEACH COUNTY

Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office deputies are investigating a shooting in Westgate Thursday afternoon.

The incident occurred outside a cashing check store located near the intersection of Wabasso Drive and Westgate Avenue.

Deputies said one man is hospitalized in stable condition and the shooter is still at large.

Witnesses stated they heard multiple shots being fired.

The area was blocked off as investigators work the scene.

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to contact the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.

This developing story will be updated as more information becomes available.