The State of North Carolina announced this week that it’s making funds available to help pay the utility bills or get other help for North Carolinians who are in a “crisis” situation when it comes to cooling their residences.

The money is being made available through the NC Department of Health and Human Services’ Crisis Intervention Program, which provides assistance to “qualifying, low-income households who are experiencing a cooling related crisis.”

That same program also provides heating related crisis solutions in winter – but right now heat is the concern since scorching southern summers have proven to be deadly for some.

David Locklear, the deputy director of the Economic and Family Services Division of Social Services, stated in a press release just before the July 4th holiday that this summer could be very harsh for those who can’t afford to cool their homes.

“The state is experiencing extreme temperatures, and this assistance can help keep families safe and healthy,” Locklear stated.

According to information provided by the state, 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.”  For the sake of relief through this program, a “life-threatening emergency” is defined as one where the household “has no heating or cooling source or has a disconnect 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 state’s Crisis Intervention Program is funded federally by the US Administration for Children and Families. Those funds are distributed through county departments of social services directly to the utility company or other vendor.

During the state’s 2018-2019 fiscal year running from July 1 to June 30, county social services departments helped just over 106,000 North Carolina households that were experiencing a heating or cooling crisis.

Applications for assistance can be made at the Guilford County Department of Health and Human Services.  Those in need should apply early since the program is in effect “while the funds are available.”

Households that apply will be evaluated by county social services staff to determine whether there is actually a heating or cooling crisis.  Benefits for recipients may vary, depending on the amount needed to address the problem.