Twin States’ fuel assistance programs resume

By FRANCES MIZE

Valley News Staff Writer

Published: 11-30-2023 7:09 PM

LEBANON — Fuel assistance programs in New Hampshire and Vermont are starting up again for the heating season.

With 25,000 applications already received, the New Hampshire Fuel Assistance Program opens Friday, Dec. 1.

Known federally as the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP, the program gives financial assistance to families and seniors whose household incomes are at or below 60% of the state median.

For a single person household this year in New Hampshire, the maximum income is $41,635. For a family of four, the maximum income is $80,069.

“Whether a household heats with electric, natural gas, propane, wood, oil, kerosene, or even has heat included in their rent, anyone in need of assistance with home energy costs is encouraged to apply,” said Jared Chicoine, commissioner of the state’s Department of Energy, in a news release.

Last winter, the program provided benefits to more than 29,500 households, according to the release. 

To apply, New Hampshire residents should call their local community action agency.

In Sullivan County, the agency is Southwestern Community Services, 603-542-9528. In Grafton, it’s Tri-County Community Action, 1-888-648-2227.

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In Vermont, residents who received fuel assistance through LIHEAP last season should receive an annual review form to complete and reapply. Residents are eligible if gross household income is equal to or less than 185% of the federal poverty level based on household size. For a family of four, that’s an annual income of $55,500.

For those that did not previously receive assistance, applications are available online at the following link: dcf.vermont.gov/esd/applicants/mybenefits.

To request a paper application, call the state’s Agency of Human Services, or AHS, at 1-800-479-6151, or apply in person at a local district office.

The local district office for most Vermonters in the Upper Valley is at 118 Prospect St., White River Junction. For residents of Windsor or West Windsor, the local district office is at 100 Mineral St., Suite 201 in Springfield.

The Vermont AHS also operates a crisis fuel assistance program for residents experiencing a heating emergency, meaning they’re out of fuel and don’t have the money to purchase more. To qualify, household income must be equal to or less than 200% of the federal poverty level. For a family of four, that’s an annual income of $55,500. 

For crisis fuel assistance, the agency can help purchase the source of heat, pay for electricity if it’s required to run a heating system, negotiate payment plans and work with electric or natural gas companies to prevent disconnection.

Eligible residents that heat with bulk fuels — which include oil, kerosene, propane, wood, pellets and coal — can apply until the second Friday in April.

Those that heat with metered fuels — natural gas, electric or metered propane — can apply until the last regular working day in April.

Residents in eastern Orange County should apply in person for crisis fuel assistance at the Bradford, Vt., location of the Capstone Community Action Agency, at 22 Whistle Stop Way. Those in western Orange County should go to the Randolph location, at 12 Prince Street, Suite A.

Residents in Windsor County should apply in person at Southeastern Vermont Community Action, or SEVCA, at 91 Buck Drive in Westminster, Vt.

AHS advises calling the community action agency first so they can detail needed documents. If you are elderly or disabled and can’t apply in person, the local agency may accept your application by phone. Capstone can be reached at 802-222-5419. SEVCA is at 802-722-4575.

“Don’t wait until you run out of fuel to apply,” the agency’s website reads. “Fuel dealers often charge a special trip fee for emergency deliveries. We cannot help you if the fuel has already been delivered or the furnace work has been completed.”

Frances Mize is a Report for America corps member. She can be reached at fmize@vnews.com or 603-727-3242.