GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. -- Agencies in Guilford County say financial assistance is available for people who need help paying their heating bills.
At Guilford County's Department of Social Services, employees are busy filing paperwork and sorting through stacks of applications for the Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIEAP).
Lisa Ashley said DSS received about $2 million to help with heating this year, an increase from last year. That helped balance out a decrease in Crisis Intervention Program (CIP) money this year.
"We can serve an average of 9,000 families with that, and we served 2,916 thus far. So we still have funds available that we can assist with LIEAP," Ashley explained.
If you are struggling, they can approve your application and pay the bill directly to the company. "We can do Piedmont Gas, we can do Duke Power, we can look at propane as well," she explained. "The only thing we can't help with is paying for wood."
Right now they're serving people over 60 years old and people with disabilities.
But the funds are about to open up, Ashley explained.
"As of February 1, the program will be open to the general population which means anybody can apply to the LIEAP program from Feb. 1 until March 31 or until the funds are depleted."
They are taking applications from the general public now, but funds cannot be processes until February 1st.
You can seek help from the LIEAP program at the Guilford County DSS office in Greensboro or High Point, Salvation Army in Greensboro or High Point, West End Ministries in High Point or Open Door Ministries in High Point.
Greensboro Urban Ministry runs a separate program funded by private donations and Duke Energy contributions. "There's a lot of need in our community," sighed Tyra Clymer, Director of Energy Assistance at GUM.
In this past December alone they paid more than $35,000 to help families with heat.
"We don't want them to be embarrassed about coming in here. We are here to help people. We definitely want them to come in," she added.
Heating and Energy Assistance varies by county. Check with your local DSS office or Salvation Army facility for information about where you live.
Agencies will ask for ID and a copy of the power bill or invoice you need help paying.