Money available to pay heat bills
By Steve Herring
Published in News on February 11, 2013 1:46 PM
Applications opened Feb. 1 to more households across the county seeking help with heating bills through the Low Income Energy Assistance Program.
The application period runs through March 29 or until the funds are exhausted.
There are no automatic approvals. Households must apply for the funds and must meet income and resource eligibility requirements.
The county is also continuing to take applications for emergency heating assistance through the Crisis Intervention Program. Both are federal programs administered by the state.
As of Friday, 753 households in the county had been served through the Low Income Energy Assistance Program for a total of $174,400, leaving the county with a balance of $188,361.
Also as of Friday, 325 households had been assisted through the Crisis Intervention Program. The county has spent $72,830.83 of its allocation of $259,821.99.
Debbie Jones, director of the Wayne County Department of Social Services, said it is difficult to compare this year's Low Income Energy Assistance Program numbers with last year because of changes in the amount awarded.
Payments last year were for either $200 or $400 based on the heating source. This year the payments can be $200, $300 or $400 -- most in Wayne County have been for $200, she said.
The amounts are set by the federal government.
The payments are made directly to the heating provider, which must have a vendor agreement with the Department of Social Services.
The county began taking applications on Dec. 1, but only for households containing an elderly person age 60 or older or a disabled person receiving services through the Division of Aging and Adult Services.
That initial filing period was through Jan. 31 when the second application cycle began.
Applications are being taken at the Wayne County Department of Social Services, 301 N. Herman St., Monday through Thursday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Everyone who lives at the same residence must be included on the application unless it is a boarding house or contains separate apartments. There must be a written or lease agreement if it is a boarding house or has a separate apartment with a separate heat source.
A valid Social Security number is required for each household member.
Applicants for the Crisis Intervention Program must meet an income test and be in a cooling- or heating-related emergency. At least one person in the household must be a citizen of the U.S. or a non-citizen who meets certain eligibility criteria.
Eligible households may receive assistance more than once during the period of July through June (the state's fiscal year). However, the total yearly benefit cannot exceed $600, which is paid directly to the vendor.