Residents feeling the first chill of winter this week will recognize the need for energy assistance services such as those provided by Ashe County Department of Social Services.
The Department of Social Services oversees two energy programs that help families in need pay their heating costs.
The Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIEAP) gives families a one-time vendor payment to help pay their heating bills. The LIEAP previously issued direct payments to individuals who were receiving Food and Nutrition Services but due to a policy change last year, all households are required to apply individually for this program.
To be eligible for the LIEAP, households must: have an income at or below 130% of the poverty level, be responsible for their heating bills, not have resources over $2200.00 and include a U.S. Citizen or a documented alien.
Priority is given to disabled persons receiving services through the Division of Aging and Adult Services or households in which any member of the household is 60 years of age and above.
Last year, the LIEAP was able to assist 192 households in Ashe County. Funds are distributed until resources are exhausted.
Jennifer Parsons at DSS said, “Our agency has not been notified as of yet what our 2012-2013 allocation of LIEAP funds will be. We will not receive notification of that amount until Dec. 1.”
The Crisis Intervention Program (CIP) is a financial program administered to assist households that are in a current heating or cooling-related crisis. The program begins July 1, 2012 through June 30, 2013 or until funds are exhausted.
The CIP can assist with a direct vendor payment for: utility deposits to a heating/cooling supplier (crisis related), heating bills, (where the heating source may include gas, fuel oil, kerosene, wood, coal, etc.), purchases of air conditioners or heaters, and utility payments for heating/cooling sources with a past-due disconnect notice or connection or reconnection fees.
To be eligible for the CIP, households must: have an income must be at or below 150% of the poverty level, include a U.S. Citizen or a documented alien and have no heating or cooling source, or have been disconnected from the heating or cooling service, resulting in a crisis situation.
By following the NC Energy Programs Policy, our agency administers the CIP program by assessing current and anticipated weather conditions and determines the likelihood or possibility of a life-threatening or health related emergency.
A crisis is determined to exist if sufficient, timely, and appropriate assistance is not available from any other source. Life-threatening is defined as a household that has no heating or cooling source or has a disconnect for the service.
The Department of Social Services also interprets life-threatening situations to include outside temperatures, lasting for an extended period of time, that would put an individual’s life at risk should they have an exhausted source of heating/cooling or a disconnect for that service.
Last year, the CIP was able to assist 431 households in Ashe County.
The current 2012-2013 allocation has been reduced by $118,000 from last year’s allocation.
Due to the funding shortage with the CIP program, the agency will be exploring alternative heating sources with household applicants this winter.
The Department of Social Services also appreciates any private donations, which are tax-deductible, that can be made to the volunteer heating program. This program is utilized to assist individuals who do not qualify for LIEAP or CIP and are experiencing a heating or cooling crisis.
Checks may be made payable to the Ashe County Department of Social Services and mailed to:
150 Government Circle, Ste. 1400
Jefferson, NC 28640
Attn: Volunteer Heating Program
All applications for LIEAP and CIP are taken at Family Central, located at: 626 Ashe Central School Road, Jefferson, NC 28640; room 308. Office hours are Monday-Friday, 8-5. For more information, call 336-982-7800.