Social services provides heating assistance

Christina Day Staff Writer

November 28, 2013

As temperatures in Ashe County begin to fall, residents in need of help heating their homes can contact the Ashe Department of Social Services.

Amanda Marze, a supervisor at the Work First division of Social Services said that they will begin accepting applications for the Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIEAP) on Monday, Dec. 2.

In order to qualify for assistance from LIEAP, applicants must be 60 years of age or older, or disabled and receiving services through the division of Aging and Adult Services, and have income equal to or less than 130 percent of the poverty level. Applicants’ liquid assets cannot exceed $2,200.

The benefits for those who qualify for LIEAP can vary. All households with wood heat can receive up to $200 in assistance, while those using kerosene, fuel or propane can receive between $200 and $400, depending on household size and income.

Another program offered by Work First, the Crisis Intervention Program, (CIP) started on Friday Nov. 22. The program is already out of federal funding. “It started Friday and ended Friday,” Marze said. “Our funding for this program was cut by $40,000 this year.”

Marze said she encourages all of those in need who feel that they may qualify for LIEAP to apply at Family Central. She warns that it differs from CIP in that it is not immediate and that assistance can take between four and six weeks.

Once qualified, checks are sent directly to the resident’s fuel provider.

Work First will be accepting applications for LIEAP from Dec. 2 to Jan. 31, 2014. Those who do not qualify initially will have an opportunity to apply beginning Feb. 1, if there is available funding left.

“I want the community to feel free to inquire,” Marze said, “We’re hopeful that we’ll get additional funding. We want to be able to help everybody.”

There may also be another opportunity to apply for CIP in mid-January. If additional funds are re-allocated, Work First will accept applications for CIP from residents whose income falls below the 150 percent poverty line.

Those who qualify for the program are able to receive vouchers of up to $300 for wood assistance or $600 for fuel assistance or electric assistance, if cutoff is imminent.

Ashe residents have been able to turn to the Blue Ridge Opportunity Commission (BROC), in the past for heating assistance.

BROC Case Manager Louise Ham said that so far this year, they do not have any funding for fuel assistance, but she is hopeful that FEMA funds which have been applied for will be granted soon.

BROC does have available funds to help with electricity cutoff notices. Its fundraising group, the “We Care Planning Committee,” runs on-going events to provide for those Ashe County residents who need assistance.

For more information on BROC and their upcoming events, call (336) 384-4543.

To apply for heating assistance, visit the Work First office at Family Central 626 Ashe Central School Road, Jefferson or call (336) 982-7800 for inquiries.