There have been a ton of government programs helping struggling families this year, and, on Friday, July 24, the state announced another one.
Funding is now available to help financially-challenged households in North Carolina pay their cooling and heating bills.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services’ Crisis Intervention Program is providing the assistance to qualifying, low-income households that are having a cooling-related crisis during the sweltering days of July and August. The same program is also ready to help those who will face the cold in winter without adequate heating.
David Locklear, the deputy director of economic services and family services in the NC Division of Social Services, said this week that he hopes the move helps a lot of people in need.
“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,” Locklear stated in a July 24 press release announcing the availability of the service. “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 considered to be in a “crisis” situation if it’s experiencing – or it 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.”
This is meant to help individuals and families where a past due notice for heating or cooling has been sent and at least one person living in the home will be in danger if the heating or cooling was not available.
Full eligibility details are posted online at www.ncdhhs.gov/crisis-intervention-program. An application for the funds 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.
Households are evaluated by departments of social services across the state to determine whether there is in fact a heating or cooling crisis to be addressed. Benefits for families may vary, depending on the amount needed to alleviate the crisis.
The Crisis Intervention Program is funded federally by the Administration for Children and Families. Those funds are distributed through county social services departments and are paid directly to the utility company.
During the last fiscal year, 2019-20, social services departments in the state helped 137,850 households by assisting with utility bills or by helping those families stay warm or cold in other ways.