New Program Provider Announces Plan of Action

Nick Lawton
NewsWest 9

REEVES COUNTY - After their Executive Director was accused of fraud by the state, the Community Council of Reeves County surrendered control of their weatherization and utility assistance programs to the state.

The Council said it was done to get those families new aid fast and the state has chosen a new organization to give that aid.

But how long will it take to reach the people?

On Tuesday, the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs entered a contract with West Texas Opportunities for a Comprehensive Energy Assistance Program.

Now the hundreds of low-income families in Reeves, Ward, Winkler and Loving counties will receive their utility bill aid again.

"That means there's immediately just under an additional half million dollars available for utility assistance to the clients and the West Texas service area, which now includes those four counties," Community Affairs Division Director, Michael DeYoung, said.

The Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs told NewsWest 9 they selected West Texas Opportunities because they already serve 14 neighboring West Texas counties and have provided transportation assistance to those four before.

Now, West Texas Opportunities is preparing to move their resources in for aid.

"We're in the process of getting all our staff together to service those four counties but the next step would be apply for services from us," WTO CEAP Coordinator, Brian Rodriguez, said. "We're looking at probably the first week of August, we'll have staff there in all the counties."

WTO's Executive Director, Jenny Hopkins, confirmed to NewsWest 9 they will have offices moved into those counties by August 2nd.

Those applying for aid will need their 30-day income and copies of their gas and electric bills.

"Our income guidelines have increased to 200% of the federal poverty guideline," Linda Reese, Director of the West Texas Opportunities Ector County Center, said. "For a family of four, they now can make $3,675 a month and qualify for our programs."

The Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs said their challenge will be finding which families still need payments to be made on their bills that would have been listed with the Community Council.

"One of the processes we're going to be working on over the next few weeks is trying to find what clients still need payments to be made and getting that information to West Texas Opportunities so that they can execute payments on behalf of those clients," DeYoung said.

Those seeking aid are encouraged to go to their local West Texas Opportunities office and pick up an application in person or call to have one delivered if they are elderly or disabled.

"I think that's the best way to get service is to go directly to that office so that you get the service provided to you," Reese said.

If you are someone seeking utility bill assistance, you can contact the West Texas Opportunities main Lamesa office at 1-877-270-2426.

For a list of WTO office locations and phone numbers, follow this link: