Morning briefing – Dec. 4


* In its 10th year, the U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey (ACS) for the first time can show poverty data at the county level over two five-year, non-overlapping time spans. And this comparison of the periods of 2005 to 2009 and 2010 to 2014 reveal that need for help with food in Ohio is trending up, not down, since the end of the Great Recession.

2014 5-year American Community Survey estimates released today show an increase in the number of individuals living in households with incomes at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level in every Metropolitan Statistical Area and 80 of 88 counties in the state, when compared to 2009 5-year estimates. This income threshold is considered the standard at which households can reach self-sufficiency—about $40,000 for a family of three.

“Ohio families are not gaining ground since the end of the Great Recession,” said Lisa-Hamler-Fugitt, executive director of the Ohio Association of Foodbanks. “In fact, now an estimated 3,859,814 Ohioans are eligible for help from our hunger relief network because their household incomes are below 200 percent of the federal poverty level. That’s more than a third of our state. Unfortunately, while we find this data disheartening, it is not surprising. Our network continues to break records for food distributed and people served – records we’d like to stop breaking.”

* During the third quarter of 2015, Ohio’s horizontal shale wells produced 5,696,780 barrels of oil and 245,747,686 Mcf (245 billion cubic feet) of natural gas, according to figures released today by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR). Quarterly production continues to set new records as horizontal shale well production totals have increased by more than 100 percent from 2014’s third quarter totals. Additionally, Ohio’s horizontal shale wells have produced more oil and gas in the first nine months of this year than all of Ohio’s wells produced in 2014.

* For many, the holiday season is a time for giving and spreading joy to others. The Ohio Neighbor to Neighbor Program, in partnership with AEP Ohio, a unit of American Electric Power (NYSE: AEP), and Dollar Energy Fund, one of the largest hardship funds in the country, are making it possible to bring a little happiness to those in Ohio communities through a massive group effort.

Eligible AEP Ohio customers can now apply for utility assistance grants for the 2015-2016 winter heating season to maintain or restore electric service.

The Neighbor to Neighbor program helps those who are experiencing financial hardships and need help to get back on their feet. Dollar Energy Fund’s Hardship Program provides one-time assistance to families facing an immediate utility crisis. With help from the Neighbor to Neighbor Program, families in need can receive a grant that’s applied directly to their AEP Ohio account and prevents the termination of their electric service. Beginning this month, the program will accept applications from households seeking heating assistance through April 30, 2016.

Staff report

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