03/06/14 — County seeking heating funds

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County seeking heating funds

By Steve Herring
Published in News on March 6, 2014 1:46 PM

Officials with the Wayne County Department of Social Services hope to learn within a few days if their request for additional federal Crisis Intervention Program funding has been approved.

As of Tuesday, the county had only $31,000 remaining in the program that is designed to assist eligible households that are in a heating or cooling related emergency.

"I asked for another $50,000 yesterday (Monday) in re-allocation from counties who are underspending," DSS Director Debbie Jones said.

The county also has $511,412 available in the Low Income Energy Assistance Program.

LIEAP provides for a one-time vendor payment to help eligible households pay their heating bills.

Both are federally funded programs that are administered by the state.

From Oct. 1, 2013 --the start of the federal fiscal year -- through Feb. 28, the county had received 2,264 CIP applications for a total of $510,025.58 compared to 994 for $216,129.09 for Oct. 1, 2012 through Feb. 28, 2013.

The LIEAP totals stand at 1,199 applications totaling $300,600 compared to 1,238 and $307,900 for the previous reporting period.

Ms. Jones said she is unsure why the LIEAP totals are lower this year.

"We still have the rest of March to go and it may catch up," she said. "It may have been too cold for some older folks to want to come out."

CIP benefits may vary based upon the amount needed to ease the heating or cooling crisis.

The payments are made directly to the vendor on behalf of the applicant -- often to prevent a termination of services.

Applicants must meet an income test and there are no automatic approvals.

At least one person in the household must be a U.S. citizen or a non-citizen who meets eligibility criteria.

Eligible households may receive assistance multiple times during the state's fiscal year that runs from July 1 to June 30.

However, the yearly total cannot exceed $600.

LIEAP assistance is available only to households with at least one resident age 60 or older, or a disabled person receiving services through the Division of Aging and Adult Services.

A household that applies must:

* Have at least one U.S. citizen who meets the eligibility criteria

* Meet an income test

* Have reserves at or below $2,200

* Be responsible for its heating bills.

Payments are made directly to the service provider, such as power, gas or oil companies during the month of the application.

People who heat with wood, natural gas, coal or electricity are eligible for $200, while people who heat with fuel oil, kerosene or LP gas are eligible for $400.