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Program offers phone bill assistance

Updated: October 9, 2013 6:07AM



A low-cost telephone service to stay connected to emergency resources is available through the Lifeline phone assistance program.

The program offered through the Universal Telephone Assistance Corp. helps residents gain and maintain access to basic local telephone service, offering discounts of up to $9.25 per month for people who qualify, according to state Rep. Bob Rita (D-Blue Island).

Residents in Rita’s district can visit his office at 2355 W. York St., Blue Island, from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Sept. 11 to learn more about the program and sign up. Representatives from UTAC and AT&T will be available to answer questions.

Residents also can contact their local telephone service provider and ask to be enrolled in Lifeline.

Telephone subscribers qualify if their income is at or below 135 percent of the federal poverty guidelines or if they participate in programs such as Medicaid, food stamps, federal public housing or low-income home energy assistance programs or school free lunch programs.

The Lifeline program is federally funded and complements a voluntary state program, the Universal Telephone Services Assistance Program which is funded by voluntary contributions from phone subscribers and helps reduce the cost of landline phone installation. Illinois has the fourth-lowest level of telephone subscribership behind Arkansas, Mississippi and Oklahoma.

“Having access to a telephone to reach authorities in an emergency or connect to vital services in our communities is so important,” Rita said. “I’m glad to help raise awareness of this great program and hope everyone who might need help will take some time to check it out.”

Information is at www.linkupillinois.org or (708) 396-2822.

Staff report



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