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Low-Income Households Can Apply For Help With The Heating Bill

A picture of a round wall thermostat.
Qualified LIEAP recipients can get assistance with utility bills during winter months.

County social service agencies are now accepting applications for the state's Low Income Energy Assistance Program. Qualified LIEAPapplicants will get a one-time credit to be applied to their utility account.

Betsy Moore of the state Division of Social Services says households with elderly or disabled residents are welcome to apply. Other families will need to wait until January.

"We try to target those that we see as most vulnerable. And it does provide them assistance during the time of the year that their heating costs—whether it's electrical or gas or whatever the source is—increases due to the weather."

Moore says eligible households can get $200-$400 of assistance.

"It's not really designed to cover a bill," she explains. "It's designed to supplement someone's heating expense during the winter. But it is a one-time payment to the vendor."

Applications can be filled out at your local Department of Social Services office.

Cathy Hill of the Orange County Department of Social Services says allocations vary by the size of the household, number of residents and other factors.

"It depends kinda, you know, on the weather, obviously. Because if it's not very cold, maybe people don't have to run it as much, and then if you get really cold spells, people end up using a lot of power."

LIEAP has been allocated $40 million this year. DHHS says the program helped 141,000 North Carolina households last year.

Rebecca Martinez produces podcasts at WUNC. She’s been at the station since 2013, when she produced Morning Edition and reported for newscasts and radio features. Rebecca also serves on WUNC’s Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accountability (IDEA) Committee.
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