Particular Wisconsin counties see more heating assistance requestsStatewide figures show that despite this year’s colder and longer winter, about the same number of people applied for federal heating assistance in Wisconsin as last year.
By: By Maureen McCollum, Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
Statewide figures show that despite this year’s colder and longer winter, about the same number of people applied for federal heating assistance in Wisconsin as last year.
People who need help paying their heating bills can apply for Wisconsin Home Energy Assistance Program (WHEAP) federal funds until mid-May. The latest figures from the Wisconsin Department of Administration show that about 220,000 households already have applied.
But residents in various parts of the state were affected differently this winter. Debbie Skroch is the WHEAP coordinator for Buffalo and Trempealeau Counties.
“Compared to last winter — last winter was so mild — we’ve had such an enormous amount of people reaching out, especially in the colder months. Even in the February, March time, where normally the season will calm down — obviously it’s been dragging on, it seems — we’ve had more people apply later in the season.”
People who need help paying heating bills can apply for Keep Wisconsin Warm/Cool Funds. It has different qualifications than the WHEAP program, and it’s run by the nonprofit Energy Services Inc. Executive Director Tim Bruer says with record heat last summer, a long winter, and rising energy costs, he’s seeing more people than ever coming forward for assistance. All this is taking place as federal funding is decreasing.
“The actual piece of the pie continues to shrink, so the average grant per household for the entire heating season continues to rapidly decline. What that results in is an increased number of emergency or crisis situations that are coming forward.”
Bruer says they have had a record number of donors, many of whom were past recipients. More information on the Keep Wisconsin Warm/Cool Fund is available online at http://www.kwwf.org/.