Heating assistance in winter cold

So far, this has been the coldest winter the central Upper Peninsula has seen in years. That means many of us have been running our heat on full blast. ABC 10 News Now senior reporter Mike Hoey looked at energy assistance funds for lower-income residents.

The St. Vincent de Paul Diocesan Council of Marquette says it’s blessed to have grants this winter that it’s never had before. They’re collaborating with the Superior Watershed Partnership on a heating assistance grant worth up to $400. An additional partnership connects them with AMCAB, which has funds for deliverable fuels.

“We also have another grant through our Detroit St. Vincent de Paul, and that will also go for utility companies, and that goes to a larger amount of funds,” Diocesan Council of Marquette executive director Laurie Schmit said. “So, it can be up to $3,000 combined for utilities.”

The Marquette Salvation Army also says it’s in a good situation right now with plenty of financial assistance to offer. New state regulations are giving people that need heating help a better chance of receiving it before their heat is shut off.

“What they’re asking is that you work with one place,” Marquette Salvation Army distribution facilitator Kristy Frederick said. “And so, instead of going from place to place to place (for assistance) each month, you find one location. You no longer have to have a shutoff notice. You can just have a past due notice, so if you are in trouble, and you know that you’re going to need some help and you have a past due notice, you can bring that in”.

Demand is expected to increase as utility bills come in following the frigid January that we’ve been having.

“I would imagine, yeah, that that demand is going to continue to increase,” Frederick said. “We’re getting a lot more calls each day and we’re going to need to book a lot more appointments, and so as the price of everything goes up and temperatures drop, the demand certainly increases.”

“That early bitter cold spell that we expect (in) January, February, March came early, so we’re seeing a huge need,” Schmit said. “Now that we’ve got that bitter cold spell back again, we’re going to continue to see that.”

St. Vinny’s and the Salvation Army both say they know times are still tough in the U.P.
If you’re in dire financial straits, they ask that you not feel embarrassed about making an appointment with them to see if they can help.