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The next round of winter-heating bill assistance begins Monday for some low-income households in North Carolina, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services.
The program covers one monthly bill through payment from the federal Low-Income Energy Assistance program.
DHHS spokeswoman Kelly Haight Connor said the payment amount is based on the recipient’s heating source: $300 for coal or wood; $400 for LP gas, natural gas, kerosene and fuel oil; and $500 for electric.
The payment program started in November. It is aimed at helping thousands of eligible seniors and people with disabilities access winter heating assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"The automated payment will be sent to the recipient’s heating source vendor as a credit to their account," Connor said.
The program is focused primarily on households that have at least one member ages 60 or older, or an individual with a disability receiving services, both through the N.C. Division of Aging and Adult Services.
Also eligible are households that received assistance from the program during the 2019-20 heating season. Those households do not need to apply for the 2020-21 payment.
Another household eligibility category is currently receiving Food and Nutrition Services benefits.
The program is scheduled to last until March 31, or when funds are exhausted.
Households can submit a paper application for assistance by mail or fax to their local Department of Social Services.
Beginning Saturday, other households may apply through the ePASS portal at epass.nc.gov.
To be eligible for the program, a household must:
• Have at least one U.S. citizen or non-citizen who meets the eligibility criteria.
• Have income equal to or less than 130% of the federal poverty limit.
• Have resources, such as saving and checking accounts and cash on hand, at or below $2,250.
• Be responsible for their heating costs.
For more information on the program and eligibility, go to www.ncdhhs.gov/assistance/low-income-services/low-income-energy-assistance, or call your local DSS office.
DHHS also cited its Crisis Intervention energy assistance program that operates year-round in North Carolina.
A household is considered in crisis if it is currently experiencing, or is in danger of experiencing, a life-threatening or health-related emergency, and assistance is not available from another source.