Call for heating assistance applicationsIt's been one of the warmest years on record in Wisconsin, but thousands of families are still in need of heating assistance.
By: By Patty Murray, Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
It's been one of the warmest years on record in Wisconsin, but thousands of families are still in need of heating assistance. The state is urging low income households to apply for benefits before temperatures take a winter "plunge."
It has been an unseasonably warm fall, but still cold enough to run the furnace. Federal heating assistance is administered by the Wisconsin Department of Administration. Spokeswoman Stephanie Marquis expects 220,000 Wisconsin families to receive enough assistance this year to weather low temperatures, "It's a little bit less, than 2,000 when comparing to last year so I think that we expect a slight decline. I think it's a combination of people getting back on their feet with the economic recovery as well as it really does depend on the winter and how cold we are."
The average one-time payment is $240, though Marquis says that is a low estimate. Payments depend on family size and income. Also the federal government may release more funds early next year which could result in higher payments.
Wisconsin utilities also collect surcharges to help low income families pay electric bills, which is a separate program. Regardless of payment utilities will not shut off heat until May, after that the lights, and everything else, get shut off. People who need assistance must apply through various county-level agencies.
For more information on the Wisconsin Home Energy Assistance Program (WHEAP) and how to apply, call the state hotline at 1-866-HEATWIS (432-8947), Douglas County Energy Assistance at (715) 395-1651 or look it up on the website www.homeenergyplus.wi.gov under the tab “Where to Apply.”