Since Dec. 1, the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services' Low-Income Energy Assistance Program has been accepting priority applications for people aged 60 or older and disabled persons who receive services through its Aging and Adult Services division.
Priority applications end on Dec. 31, and all other eligible households can apply from Jan. 1 until March 31 or until the program's funds run out.
The LIEAP is a federally-funded program that helps households pay for their heating bills. The program provides a one-time payment to a vendor in order to warm their homes during the winter months.
“LIEAP helps ensure North Carolina’s older adults and people with disabilities who may be facing financial hardship have the funds to help stay warm throughout these colder months,” the NCDHHS said.
The email said that households that meet certain criteria may be eligible. The criteria include meeting an income test, having reserves at or below $2,250, or being responsible for heating costs. In order to apply, households might have to provide copies of bills, verification of citizenship or tax forms.
The NCDHHS said those with lower income and/or fixed income are often most impacted by energy costs.
Lindsey Shewmaker, a human services manager for Orange County, said the program also helps offset other high energy costs families might be facing in the winter.
“If your family is on a fixed budget, you have food expenses, you may have health care costs, you may have childcare costs or you know, rent and car payments, everything that it requires to run a household,” she said.
Shewmaker supervises all of the public assistance in Orange County, including programs that help support the lower income community. She said the LIEAP payment amount is based on income and household size, with payments ranging from $300 to $500.