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Low-income households get help to stay warm this winter

Morgue File phot

Residents in the area are braving the winter weather and with the help of low-income heating assistance some families get a little extra push until spring.

Stark County Social Services has 167 households enrolled in fuel assistance through North Dakota's low income home energy assistance program as of the end of November.

Marcy Decker, SCSS eligibility supervisor, said that in recent years the number of people enrolling in the program has dwindled, but she expects that will change this year.

"Our numbers have been down, but I suspect that this year the numbers will be a little higher because of the weather," she said.

LIHEAP is a federally funded program that runs from Oct. 1 to May 31 to provide heating assistance to low income households.

Those who should consider applying are households that buy their heating fuel from a fuel dealer or a utility company—fuel oil, propane, natural gas, electricity, wood, coal and kerosene—households that need assistance with non-repairable furnaces, and households that have difficulty meeting payment costs due to other costs and are in danger of losing their heating.

Those who are eligible for LIHEAP, are also eligible for up to $175 for furnace cleaning and weatherization of their home.

Eligibility is based on household's income and assets. A household's income must be at or below 60 percent of N.D.'s median income and within these limits:

• 1 person household income $27,650

• 2 person household income $36,158

• 3 person household income $44,665

• 4 person household income $53,173

• 5 person household income $61,681

• 6 person household income $70,188

Emergency assistance is also available to help keep heating from being disconnected.

Community Action Partnership offers weatherization of households, with the prior approval for LIHEAP, to low-income households.

Erv Bren, the Dickinson region CAP executive director, said there are three members of the weatherization team in the Dickinson region who are doing daily home weatherizing.

"We have numerous applications and we're out everyday doing weatherization services," he said. "We're out checking furnaces, cleaning and tunes. That's kind of a daily job for the crews that we have."

The Dickinson region serves Adams, Billings, Bowman, Dunn, Golden Valley, Hettinger, Slope and Stark counties.

The Williston region serves Divide, McKenzie and Williams counties.

Deeann Long, client services director, said that the crews are well trained at weatherization.

"The crews, no one is trained better than them," she said. "No one trains to make a home energy efficient but our weatherization crew."

The program is designed to reduce the energy consumption in low-income households. Brenn said that $733,000 was awarded in weatherization assistance which lasts for a fiscal year.

"So we do have limitations," he said. "Each household can have up to $7,105 spent in weatherization."

The weatherization teams also ensures that dwellings are safe and comfortable for the inhabitants.

The eligibility guidelines for the weatherization program are:

• 1 person household income $23,760

• 2 person household income $32,040

• 3 person household income $40,320

• 4 person household income $48,600

• 5 person household income $56,880

• 6 person household income $65,160

The weatherization services include caulking cracks in walls, ceilings and foundations. The team with weather strip around the door and replace or repair damaged windows and doors.

They will add insulation in attics, walls or foundations. Furnace repair or replacement could occur in eligible households. They will do safety checks and heating system tune-ups, insulate water lines and heat ducts and will do infrared analyses to determine heat loss or gain, as well as moisture problems.

In the Dickinson and Williston region over 130 homes have been weatherized thus far.

For more information on weatherization visit www.dickinsoncap.org/ or call 701-227-0131 and for more information on LIHEAP contact Stark County Social Services at 701-456-7675.

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