Funding Cuts for Heating Assistance Create New State Eligibility Requirements

Nov 17, 2011

North Carolinians once eligible for federal assistance to help keep their houses warm may not receive funding this winter. Last year New Hanover County received $800,000 for the Low Income Energy Assistance Program. WHQR’s Sara Wood reports this year that number has dwindled to $226,000.

In the past, recipients were automatically enrolled if they received services for low-income families like food stamps, but this year every person has to apply and priority will be given to people over 60 and people with disabilities. Gwen Stahl with the New Hanover County Department of Social Services says it is uncertain if everyone else will receive help.

“Unfortunately that will be based on if there’s any funding leftover. We won’t know that until the time comes, but we will be monitoring funding on a regular, probably daily basis because when the funds run out then of course we would stop taking applications.”

Applications for the target group will be accepted in December and January. People who aren’t over 60 or disabled cannot apply until February, only if there is money left in the pot. 

“We’re hoping we will get to those families, but the reality is just based on our funding. We’re not sure how much we’ll have left at that point but definitely February 1 if funds are available those families can come in to apply.”

In previous years people receiving services for low-income families like food stamps were automatically enrolled. This year every eligible applicant must apply even though they are not guaranteed assistance.

For more information about the Low Income Energy Assistance Program, visit their web site.