Jefferson County residents who are facing the possibility of having their heat turned off can soon apply for financial assistance through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.
Starting on Jan. 6, the Louisville Metro Office of Resilience and Community Services will be open for residents to apply for financial help to keep their lights and heat on.
The program is open to residents with a current utility bill past due and residents who’ve received a disconnect notice to apply for assistance. The income limit is at or below 130 percent of the federal poverty limit, or about $2,790 for a family of four per month.
Research has shown this kind of financial assistance is important to health. For instance, low-income older adults are more likely to face having to choose between groceries and keeping the lights and heating on in the winter or summer. And almost 17 percent of household heads with children under age six make decisions to not seek medical care in order to pay their heat bills.
Residents have to provide paperwork including proof of income, social security cards or government documentation of social security numbers and the current bill that is past due or a disconnection notice.
To apply, residents must schedule an appointment utilizing the automated appointment system at (502) 991-8391. Residents who are home bound can call (502) 780-7937 for help.
LIHEAP, funded through the Department of Health and Human Services via Congress, started in 1981 to help low-income households pay heating and cooling utility bills.
Dec. 30 is the deadline to submit a comment to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services over a proposed fee hike to access some records, some of which date back more than 100 years and are useful to genealogists.
The USCIS wants to increase the fee for obtaining immigration files by 500%, which means some people would have to pay more than $600 for the documents. The move would affect families of the millions of people who immigrated to the United States in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
“This is immigration history,” Renée Carl, a genealogist in Washington, D.C., who works with clients who use the records, tells NPR’s David Greene.
“If someone is coming from a displaced persons camp in Europe, they would have filled out all this paperwork while still in Europe,” Carl says. “Then you get the information on when they come in. You get a photograph if there’s a visa file. You almost always get a photograph.”
There are millions of records held at the agency, Carl says. These include alien registration files, files for certificates of naturalization and visa files, if one applied for a visa to come to the United States. “There might be something called a registry file if, during the process of naturalization, the government couldn’t find you on a ship manifest, so they were trying to document how you entered the country in the first place,” Carl says.
For people trying to trace their family histories, these files can offer critical information, including photos. She says genealogical research goes beyond just wanting to know relatives’ names; people want to understand the kind of lives their ancestors lived.
“Sometimes you’ve never seen a picture of your great-grandfather or your grandfather other than as a grandfather, not as a young person,” Carl says. “This gives you a way to understand what their lives were like when you can’t ask them the questions anymore.”
Even when the files don’t contain photos, they almost always include a signature, Carl says, “which is a way to have that human touch in a record.”
USCIS documents can be especially important for populations in the U.S. affected by discriminatory immigration laws, Carl says. These groups include Japanese-born residents who were denied citizenship until after World War II and people of Chinese descent who were subject to immigration and citizenship restrictions between the 1870s and the 1950s.
Carl and colleagues have created a website with more information on the files USCIS has, the proposed fees, as well as how to comment.
She says she first learned about the value of immigration documents when doing research on her own family.
“My grandfather came to this country as a child and became a citizen,” she says. “But in the 1960s, my grandfather had no idea where his certificate of naturalization was. He wanted a copy of it that had his name on it. And he also needed to prove how old he was to Social Security so he could start collecting his benefits.”
He’d come from Eastern Europe as a child and Carl’s grandfather did not have a birth certificate, so in order to prove his age, Carl found letters in his file from the St. Louis school board saying that he started first grade at age 8.
“It gave the name of the school that he attended. These are little things, but it gave me this insight into a person as a child,” she says. “You realize they had this whole life that they lived. So these records are one way to take a peek back into a different part of our immigrant ancestors’ lives.”
If the fee increases go through, Carl says, it would cost a minimum of $240 to simply put in a search request for records from USCIS. The fee would cover some records, she says, “But if there is a paper file, they would add on another $385 to the fee. So that’s a total of $625 for one file on one person.”
Currently, it costs about $65 for a search and another $65 to receive the records.
“There’s a huge difference,” says Carl. “It’s already expensive for records that should be at the National Archives. Many of these records should be at National Archives and free for people to access.”
A USCIS press release says the fees are needed to cover the costs of processing these applications. But Carl says the fees are redundant.
“Our immigrant ancestors paid and filed fees when they filled out the forms in the first place. If these records were transferred over to the National Archives, they would be available for research, and these records would then be held in a place that’s used to handling records all the time, not in an agency that focuses on immigration and naturalization, she says.
NPR’s Gisele Grayson and Jon Hamilton produced this story for the Web.
The NFL’s regular season is almost over, and (sadly?) there isn’t much real chaos potential for Week 17: Ten of 12 available playoff spots are already clinched, and we already know six of the eight division winners. But there are seven teams whose postseason and/or division fates have yet to be sealed, along with other seeding concerns on the line as the regular season concludes. So let’s run down the Week 17 situations that need to happen for those seven teams to make the playoffs or win their division.
|Favorite||Underdog||Favorite’s Win prob||Quality||Evenness||Importance||QBs|
Philadelphia Eagles: 75 percent chance to make the playoffs. This one is relatively simple: The Eagles will make the playoffs if they beat the Giants at the Meadowlands — which has a 70 percent chance of happening, per the FiveThirtyEight model. New York QB Daniel Jones had a great game against Washington in his first start after returning from an ankle injury, and the Giants certainly have the potential to pull off the upset if he stays hot, but oft-maligned Eagles passer Carson Wentz has been heating up of late as well. And Philly has a backup plan even if it loses here: It can also make the playoffs if the Cowboys lose or tie.
Dallas Cowboys: 25 percent. The Cowboys wasted a chance to clinch the NFC East last week against the Eagles, and now they no longer control their own destiny. In Week 17, they first need to beat Washington (and backup Case Keenum) at home, which our model gives an 82 percent chance of happening. That’s the good news for the Cowboys. But Dallas also needs Philadelphia to lose at the same time against New York. (Even an Eagles tie would clinch Philly’s playoff slot.) So Cowboys fans will need to second-screen the Giants game Sunday afternoon and root hard for the G-Men — the kind of hilariously unexpected Week 17 bedfellows you always love to see.
San Francisco 49ers: 55 percent chance to win the division.
Seattle Seahawks: 45 percent.
The Niners and Seahawks both clinched the postseason weeks ago, but there’s still plenty to play for when San Francisco visits Seattle on Sunday. First of all, this is the best pure matchup of the week, according to the Elo ratings of both teams. Also, the winner will take the NFC West crown and potentially claim a first-round bye (or the No. 1 overall NFC seed), depending on what else happens around the league.
Our model gives San Francisco the division edge (55 percent) because it thinks the Niners are the better team — sorry, we’re still skeptical about Seattle’s weaker point differential. Plus, the 49ers can also clinch the division with a tie; Seattle must win outright to match the Niners’ record, whereupon they will grab the division on a head-to-head tiebreaker. The model thinks the 49ers have the inside track at a bye (55 percent) as well because all they need is a win. The Seahawks must win and the Packers must lose to the 3-11-1 Detroit Lions (a 15 percent proposition) in order to secure Seattle the bye.
Tennessee Titans: 62 percent chance to make the playoffs. Over in the AFC, the Titans have the best chance to get the last playoff slot up for grabs. All Tennessee needs to do is beat the Houston Texans, who are playing at home but might end up resting QB Deshaun Watson in a game in which their postseason seed will be locked in by kickoff.<a class="espn-footnote-link" data-footnote-id="1" href="https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/whats-at-stake-in-week-17-of-the-nfl-season/#fn-1" data-footnote-content="
Whether Houston is the No. 3 or No. 4 seed depends entirely on whether the Chiefs beat the Chargers earlier on Sunday.
“>1 (On the one hand, Texans coach Bill O’Brien says he’s not resting his starters; on the other hand, Watson has been a limited practice participant this week, so we’ll see.) For now, we give Tennessee a 47 percent chance of beating Houston. The Titans can also make the playoffs if Pittsburgh loses to Baltimore (71 percent, even with Robert Griffin III starting for the Ravens) and either Tennessee ties Houston or Indianapolis loses to or ties Jacksonville (39 percent). That combination of events is enough to add up to a solid 62 percent playoff chance for Ryan Tannehill and the surprising Titans.
Pittsburgh Steelers: 31 percent. The Steelers’ path was made very difficult by losses against the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets over the past two weeks, plus an injury to QB Mason Rudolph — who himself isn’t very good but is better than stand-in Duck Hodges per our ratings. Now Pittsburgh must win at Baltimore (which has only a 29 percent probability even with the Ravens resting Lamar Jackson) and Tennessee must lose at Houston (53 percent) … or, if the Steelers lose, then Tennessee, Jacksonville and Oakland must also lose. (Or! Oakland can win, but then the Dolphins must beat the Patriots, the Chiefs must beat the Chargers, the Packers must beat the Lions and the Vikings must beat the Bears — all thanks to the NFL’s incredibly arcane strength-of-victory tie-breaker.) It’s not an impossible combination of outcomes,<a class="espn-footnote-link" data-footnote-id="2" href="https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/whats-at-stake-in-week-17-of-the-nfl-season/#fn-2" data-footnote-content="
Well, that last combo of eight different results is pretty unlikely.
“>2 but it’s much less straightforward than Mike Tomlin and crew must have been hoping for.
Oakland Raiders: 7 percent. The Raiders entered Week 16 with less than a 1 percent chance to make the playoffs, and they needed five different games to go a specific way<a class="espn-footnote-link" data-footnote-id="3" href="https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/whats-at-stake-in-week-17-of-the-nfl-season/#fn-3" data-footnote-content="
Oakland needed to beat the Chargers; Baltimore needed to beat Cleveland; the Jets needed to beat Pittsburgh; New Orleans needed to beat Tennessee and Indy needed to beat Carolina … all of which happened!
“>3 just to keep their playoff hopes alive heading into the regular season finale. Now, they “only” need five more results to fall into place:
- Oakland wins at Denver (31 percent)
- Baltimore wins vs. Pittsburgh (71 percent)
- Indianapolis wins at Jacksonville (61 percent)
- Houston wins vs. Tennessee (53 percent)
- New England wins vs. Miami (90 percent), or
- Chicago wins at Minnesota (29 percent), or
- Detroit wins vs. Green Bay (15 percent), or
- L.A. Chargers win at Kansas City (14 percent)
That looks like a lot, and in one sense it definitely is — we give the scenario just a 7 percent chance of happening. But considering what a playoff long shot Oakland was two weeks ago, 7 percent actually isn’t that bad. And as we noted in our NFL chat Monday, that kind of crazy postseason parlay is quite fitting for a team set to move to Las Vegas next season.
FiveThirtyEight vs. the Readers
As a weekly tradition here at FiveThirtyEight, we look at how our Elo model did against everybody who made picks in our forecasting game. (If you entered, you can find yourself on our leaderboard here.) These are the games in which Elo made its best — and worst — predictions against the field last week:
|OUR PREDICTION (ELO)||READERS’ PREDICTION|
|PICK||WIN PROB.||PICK||WIN PROB.||Result||READERS’ NET PTS|
|TB||54%||HOU||56%||HOU 23, TB 20||+8.2|
|MIN||65||MIN||56||GB 23, MIN 10||+7.8|
|LAC||70||LAC||63||OAK 24, LAC 17||+7.5|
|NO||57||NO||65||NO 38, TEN 28||+3.9|
|KC||63||KC||71||KC 26, CHI 3||+3.4|
|WSH||54||WSH||50||NYG 41, WSH 35||+2.2|
|SF||66||SF||69||SF 34, LAR 31||+0.1|
|SEA||85||SEA||84||ARI 27, SEA 13||-0.1|
|BAL||80||BAL||83||BAL 31, CLE 15||-0.8|
|MIA||62||MIA||59||MIA 38, CIN 35||-4.1|
|ATL||74||ATL||69||ATL 24, JAX 12||-4.5|
|IND||68||IND||63||IND 38, CAR 6||-5.6|
|DEN||83||DEN||73||DEN 27, DET 17||-6.3|
|NE||68||NE||62||NE 24, BUF 17||-6.8|
|PIT||54||PIT||60||NYJ 16, PIT 10||-9.1|
|PHI||56||DAL||52||PHI 17, DAL 9||-9.9|
After being blown out by the Elo algorithm for most weeks of the 2019 season’s second half, the readers kept things close in Week 15 and maintained that trend in Week 16 as well. Although the computer had some good picks, led by calling Philly’s win over the Cowboys, the readers also had some nice calls of their own. They rightly picked Houston to beat Tampa, for instance, and they were lower on the Vikings and Chargers than Elo was before each team lost. Still, the algorithm won the week by an average margin of 14.1 points, notching its 12th straight win over the field and bringing its record to 14-2 on the season.
Congratulations are in order, though, to Jo Benincasa, who led all identified readers in Week 16 with 146.0 points, and to Aaron DiGenova, who continues to lead the full-season contest with 1,051.9 points. Thanks to everyone who played — and if you haven’t, be sure to get in on the action! You can make picks now and try your luck against Elo, even if you missed Week 16.
Check out our latest NFL predictions.