Winter heating bills may not be on most people’s minds with daily high temperatures in the 80s across Hall County despite the arrival of fall and the month of October.
But for many low-income and elderly residents, now is the time to begin thinking about where to find assistance with paying these bills.
A new report from the Federal Energy Administration finds that 31 percent of all Americans struggle to pay their heating bills each year, with one in five households reducing or sacrificing food, medicine and other basic needs to keep the heat running.
“Of the 25 million households that reported forgoing food and medicine to pay energy bills, 7 million faced that decision nearly every month,” the FEA report stated. “Occasionally, households may lose the use of heating or air-conditioning equipment entirely. This situation can occur when equipment breaks and a household cannot afford to fix it or when a household cannot afford fuel for their equipment.”
For local households where residents are 65 years of age or older, or homebound due to health reasons, Ninth District Opportunity will begin accepting applications for heating bill assistance beginning Nov. 1.
The federally funded Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program distributes money to local community action agencies such as NDO to cover heating bills for those in need.
Last winter, Ninth District received about $520,000 in LIHEAP funding, which assisted 1,503 families with $350 or $310 one-time payments based on household income.
Depending on the availability of funding, the program will begin accepting applications from the general public beginning Dec. 3.
Ninth District Opportunity – Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program
- What: One-time help paying heating bills for the elderly (65 years of age and older) and homebound due to health problems.
- When: Applications for assistance are accepted beginning Nov. 1. (Depending on availability of funds, assistance will be offered to the general public beginning Dec. 3).
- How to apply: Applicants must schedule an appointment beginning Nov. 1 by calling 855-636-3108 or online at www.ndo.org/eap. No walk-ins accepted. Do not call the local Ninth District office. Eligibility based on the income of every member of household.
- More info: Applicants must provide social security number, photo identification, age verification, income verification and most recent home heating bill to be approved.