Crisis fuel assistance is available starting Monday

WESTMINSTER — The nights are getting longer and there's a chill in the air; it's time for everyone to bundle up against the cold when venturing outdoors.

But for those who can't afford to heat their homes adequately, that chill is inescapable and they need to bundle up indoors, too. In fact, households with low incomes spend an average of about $2,000 more than they can afford on energy costs every year. While many get some assistance through the state's Seasonal Fuel program, what happens when that's not enough? For low-income households facing a heating emergency, SEVCA's Crisis Fuel program can be their lifeline. And, as of Monday, that lifeline is once again available to those who qualify.

"Depending on how cold the winter is, anywhere from 800 to 1,600 households may need Crisis Fuel assistance in Windham and Windsor Counties," said Pat Burke, Director of SEVCA's Family Services Program, which provides Crisis Fuel assistance. "We do our best to make sure no one in need has to go without heat."

SEVCA may also be able to arrange an emergency furnace repair or replacement for qualified homeowners whose furnaces stop working or become unsafe to operate.

To be eligible for Crisis Fuel assistance, households must have had extenuating circumstances that led to the heating emergency (defined as being very close to being out of fuel or out of fuel without money to buy more), and income at or below 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level, which is based on household size; e.g., $4,100 per month (gross) for a family of four. Most households must first apply for and receive Seasonal Fuel assistance before they can be considered for Crisis Fuel.

Generally, only one Crisis Fuel assist is provided per household receiving Seasonal Fuel assistance per year (two assists for those who don't qualify). For more information, call SEVCA toll-free at 800-464-9951 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Applicants in northern Windham County may also call that number to schedule an appointment. Brattleboro area applicants should call 802-254-2795; Springfield area applicants, 802-885-6153; and White River Junction area applicants, 802-295-5215. Applicants must bring pay stubs or other proof of income, know how much fuel is left in their tank (if oil heat), and provide information about their fuel dealer. For Crisis Fuel Assistance on weekends and holidays only, call 1-866-331-7741, and for furnace repair or replacement assistance on weekends, holidays, or for after-hours emergencies, call 1-877-295-7998. Crisis Fuel Assistance is available from Nov. 27 until the second Friday in April.

To help bridge the gap between what is covered by the state's Crisis Fuel program and what is needed by a particular family in crisis, SEVCA raises money through grants and donations. To help keep low-income families warm this winter, individuals may donate to our "Share the Warmth" fund online at Checks may also be sent to 91 Buck Drive, Westminster, VT 05158.


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