ELLSWORTH — More people will be eligible for assistance paying for heating costs this winter, even if heat is included in their rent payments, Downeast Community Partners (DCP) announced this week.
New income eligibility guidelines for the 2019-2020 Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) season are substantially higher than in prior years, which means that many more people will be eligible for HEAP.
The program, which is administered by Maine Housing, provides money to income eligible homeowners and renters to help pay for heating costs, even if it included within the cost of rent. DCP is one of nine Community Action Programs (CAP) in Maine that has received funding.
The amount of the heat benefit varies based on income, family size, energy costs, and other factors. The one-time benefit payment is made directly to the heating vendor. Income eligibility guidelines changed this year allowing more people to qualify for assistance.
“It’s no secret that many families struggle to pay for heat during a Maine winter,” Lee Hardison of DCP said in a statement. “We are excited to find out that the income guidelines went up and we are able to help many more people during a vulnerable time of year.”
DCP phone lines open for incoming calls on Sept. 18. Applications can take up to 30 business days, from the date of the application, to be processed. DCP staff will work at sites in Ellsworth, Calais and Machias.
“The application process is streamlined and will be much easier for residents to complete,” Hardison said. “I hope everyone will apply because there is funding available to help all eligible people. No one should be cold this winter.”