By Ron VandenBoom
Residents living in Hill, Blaine, and Liberty counties seeking fuel assistance for the 1999-2000 winter heating season may be eligible for the HRDC Fuel Assistance Program.
Lana Dramstad, home energy specialist at HRDC in Havre, said fuel assistance is now available to those of low and moderate incomes based on federal low-income guidelines up to 125 percent of the poverty level. The maximum annual income for a family of four, for example, is $20,875.
Applications can be picked up at the HRDC Office at College Park Plaza in Havre or they can be mailed to those seeking assistance who call 265-6743 or 1-800-640-6743 and request them.
Completed application must include proof of income and the previous months heating bill.
Dramstad said applications are currently taking one to two weeks for approval and notice of the amount of assistance will be mailed to the applicant.
Fuel assistance checks are sent directly to the power companies in December and again in April, Dramstad said, except in cases where the applicant uses wood for heat or where utilities are included in the rent.
Those seeking reimbursement of utilities that are included in their rent need to be able to provide proof of rent paid for three months.
HRDC also provides emergency assistance through the Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIEAP) program. Emergency assistance would apply in cases where the homes heating systems went down or the situations became life threatening, Dramstad said.
Help in these cases will be provided within 18 to 24 hours, she said.
Also available through HRDC is the Home Weatherization Program. Its purpose is to help make homes more energy efficient.
Heating contractors come into the home and check insulation and heating systems, and assistance is provided to those who choose to upgrade, insulate or replace heating systems.
Those wanting to participate in the weatherization program must meet income levels that are up to 150 percent of the federal poverty level.
Also offered by HRDC are what Dramstad described as low cost/no cost do-it-yourself kits. These can be picked up at HRDC and include plastic window covering, caulking, and insulation for outside-wall light switches.
Also available at HRDC are free energy-saving tips and booklets.
For more information on the HRDC Fuel Assistance Program and other energy saving information, call 265-6743 or 1-800-640-6743.