Special to Iredell Free News
RALEIGH — Funding is now available to help North Carolinians in crisis pay cooling or heating bills or secure cooling or heating resources.
The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services’ Crisis Intervention Program provides assistance to qualified, low-income households who are experiencing a cooling related crisis (or heating related crisis in the winter).
“We know many families are currently facing additional financial hardships due to COVID-19, and this program is designed to bring aid to those in crisis to alleviate cooling or heating emergencies,” said David Locklear, deputy director of Economic and Family Services in the Division of Social Services. “North Carolina is moving into its hottest months of the year, and we hope those eligible will take advantage of this program to help keep their families safe and healthy.”
A household is in a crisis if it is experiencing or is in danger of experiencing a life-threatening or health related emergency and sufficient, timely and appropriate assistance is not available from any other source. A life-threatening emergency is defined as a household which has no heating or cooling source or has a past due notice for primary heating or cooling service, and the health or well-being of a household member would be in danger if the heating or cooling crisis was not alleviated.
The Energy Programs Application form is available for download at https://epass.nc.gov for applicants to print and mail, fax, scan or drop off at a local DSS office after completion. Applications may also be made by calling the county department of social services or at county departments of social services offices, through June 30, 2021, while the funds are available.
Households are individually evaluated by county departments of social services staff to determine whether there is a heating or cooling crisis. Benefits for families may vary, depending on the amount needed to alleviate the crisis.
To be eligible, a household must have at least one person who meets certain criteria, including being income eligible, and have a heating or cooling related emergency. Full eligibility details are available online at www.ncdhhs.gov/crisis-intervention-program.
The Crisis Intervention Program is funded federally by the Administration for Children and Families. The funds are distributed through county departments of social services directly to the vendor or utility company. During state fiscal year 2019-20, county departments of social services helped 137,850 North Carolina households experiencing a crisis by assisting with utility bills or securing fuel or cooling resources.