01/10/13 — Residents with medical concerns can get help with heating bills

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Residents with medical concerns can get help with heating bills

By Steve Herring
Published in News on January 10, 2013 1:46 PM

Help is available for Wayne County families with health concerns who are facing the danger of losing their heat because of non-payment of their bills.

The county has received $332,652.82 in funding through the federal Crisis Intervention Program for households that are experiencing or are in danger of experiencing a life-threatening or health-related emergency and help is not available from other sources.

Life-threatening is defined as a household which has no heating or cooling source or has a disconnect notice for its primary heating or cooling service and the health or well-being of a household member would be in danger if the heating or cooling crisis is not relieved.

The program is not the same as the state-administered federal Low Income Energy Assistance Program for which the county is currently accepting applications. That program provides one-time financial help with heating bills.

"We will begin to take applications next week after the warm front passes through," said Debbie Jones, Wayne County Department of Social Services director. "With temps as warm as what is predicted for the rest of this week, it is not a crisis and does not meet criteria."

Crisis Intervention Program benefits vary based on the amount needed. Eligible households may receive assistance more than once during the state's fiscal year, which runs from July 1 through June 30.

The maximum allowed benefit amount can be up to $600 per application, per crisis situation. However, the total yearly benefit cannot exceed $600, which is paid directly to the vendor.

Applicants must meet an income test and be in a cooling- or heating-related emergency. Household members' countable income must be equal to, or less than,150 percent of the current poverty level. Also, at least one person in the household must be a citizen of the U.S. or a non-citizen who meets certain eligibility criteria.

Walk-in appointments are not accepted, and people must call 919-580-4025 to schedule an appointment using the following schedule:

* Monday appointment, call Sunday starting at 6 p.m. until Monday at 7 a.m.

* Tuesday appointment, call Monday starting at 6 p.m. until Tuesday at 7 a.m.

* Wednesday appointment, call Tuesday starting at 6 p.m. until Wednesday at 7 a.m.

* Thursday appointment, call Wednesday starting at 6 p.m. until Thursday at 7 a.m.

Callers are asked to leave their name and phone number where they can be reached between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m. Only one name/appointment can be given for each phone number.

If an appointment is available that day, someone from the Department of Social Services will return the call by 10 a.m.