Local News

Heating assistance available for those in need

Posted January 14, 2009
Updated March 9, 2009

— Amid the nation's economic crisis, a record surge of people are in need of help staying warm.

"I had financial difficulty. I lost my job,” Paul Yongo said.

Yongo said he is barely able to pay his rent or keep his utilities on this winter. He is among a slew of people hoping to get financial assistance through the Wake County Salvation Army.

"The problem is (that) so many other people are facing the same problem, and it is a long line,” Yongo said.

cold Don't freeze, get heating help

About 7.3 million households are expected to get fuel aid this winter, according to a survey released this week by the National Energy Assistance Directors' Association, which represents state-run, energy-assistance programs for low-income residents.

That is nearly 1.5 million more households than last winter, a 27 percent increase. It is also about 800,000 more households than the previous high in 1985, the group said.

"We are still turning 10 (people) away easily everyday,” said Paige Bagwell, director of operations and communications for the Wake County Salvation Army.

Bagwell said more people are turning to charities to keep their heat on as temperatures drop. Four days a week, the Salvation Army gives 15 families $100 to help pay for utilities. However, many more people apply and leave empty-handed.

"We are seeing people [who] have never asked for assistance before,” Bagwell said.

Lines for services are up 35 percent at the Salvation Army. It is much the same at other area charities, where waiting lists are weeks-long.

"Their bills are getting higher and higher and higher,” Bagwell said.

There are few options for people, except to apply and hope the funds are available.

"Just one day at a time. That is the best you can do,” Yongo said.

Yongo is attending classes at Wake Tech, he said, in hopes of improving his financial situation.

Wake County commissioners have also approved funding for emergency heating assistance. Commissioners have made $813,283 available to eligible low-income households struggling to meet utility bills.

Residents can call 919-212-7000 for an appointment to apply for the aid.

Families earning up to 150 percent of the poverty level are eligible. In 2007, aid was made available for individuals making up to $15,000 and for families of four making up to $21,000.


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  • pleshy Jan 15, 2009

    1700 in two months for heat? They don't need heat help, they need to buy some insulation - or maybe learn to close a window.

  • pleshy Jan 15, 2009

    I wonder if I could pay someone to stand in line for me, call me when they get to the front, and then I roll down there and take my place to get some free heat.

  • ncguy Jan 15, 2009

    I need help with my gas money and grocery money and my wifes Nordstroms credit card.

    Can I get a handout please!

    What about all those jobs that illegals have? It was a consenses that no Americans would fill those jobs- how about now?

  • OLD PIRATE 2 Jan 15, 2009

    Common sen: Unless they have resistance electric heat in a barn, that bill is unreasonable. They need to consider other types of heat. You sound like a real caring person...

  • Eeeee Jan 15, 2009

    I have a suggestion. If it is feasible to do so, I would suggest redirecting your money. If you need heating assistance, why not use the money you do have in order to pay that AND then apply for food stamps, TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families), etc. If one source of federal assistance is overrun, it might be possible to receive another one.
    There is no shame in receiving federal assistance. It is a life-saver when a person is needing it. For those of you who disagree, you have not been put into this kind of dire situation yet.

  • scarletindurham Jan 15, 2009

    PS - people who do not have jobs and expect the government to give them money DESERVE to wait around Social Services all day. What else are they doing with their time? Other people who work hard for a living and pay taxes should find it EASIER to get NEEDED assistance than those who do not pay taxes and stand around with their hands out!

  • scarletindurham Jan 15, 2009

    bronzegoddess, obviously if you are working a minimum wage job, then you are not considered unemployed, therefor I was not talking about you or people in your situation.

    My point is, if all they need from me is documentation in order to "consider" helping me, they should be able to accept a fax of my pay stubs, proof of residency, daughter's birth certificate, etc. instead of people taking time off work to get help getting money. What sense does that make, lose money you earn to get a handout from the government? Take an entire day off work (and it's not just ONE day, it's more like two and a half, considering I would lose my overtime if I took a day off work). I just don't think the system is efficient and lacks common sense.

  • familyfour Jan 15, 2009

    common....if two months of fuel was $1700.00, then that's not the only problem they have.....that is an astounding figure....what do they live in....a 10,000sf mansion?

  • colliedave Jan 15, 2009

    For some reason the WRAL mind-police zapped my comment on what the Obama admin will do to increase heating costs in signing Kyoto Accords and implementing his cap/trade policies!

    So much about caring for the poor.

  • common_sense_plz Jan 15, 2009

    I would like to know where the elderly can go to get assistance for thier heating bill, 2 months of fuel has cost them $1700, this is more than thier social security. I need help in finding them help. We are doing what we can to help, but we to have a family to heat and feed and our own funds are being depleated, but I will not see them freeze. Anyone know where the elderly on a fixed income can go for assistance?