Heating Homes This Winter

Published: Nov. 15, 2023 at 5:30 PM EST
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PRESQUE ISLE, Maine (WAGM) - ACAP’s Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) helps homeowners and renters pay for heating costs during our long winters. We spoke to the energy and housing coordinator, Josh Mcatee, to learn about how they plan to help folks stay warm this winter even with less funds to do so. Across the state, the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) has about 10 million dollars less this year to help folks heat their homes this winter.

Mcatee said, “Last year we did run out of money when we did have that additional 10 million dollars.”

Apart from the 10 million, Mcatee says, HEAP had additional funds and benefits for folks last year that they won’t have this year either.

Mcatee said, “The average benefit last year among all the Aroostook County HEAP applicants was around 1060 dollars. So, in February, everyone who was already certified got a second benefit of 1060 dollars. So, they will not get that second benefit this year so that already cuts their benefits in half.”

Mcatee explained that donations are important to their programs and the folks they help because sometimes that is the only way they can help someone in need. Whether you are normally able to receive their benefits…

Mcatee said, “In a situation where you don’t have the necessary documentation such as you have a new child born and you don’t have their social security card, yet we do need the social security cards. So if they can’t get that we are able to do a donation for them. So that helps out somebody who would normally be able to get the assistance.”

Or if this is the first time you find yourself needing the help. Such as a family with one income who normally wouldn’t qualify but needed help after losing their income.

Mcatee said, “The individual got injured and he ended up having two surgeries this summer and he’s never applied before --very proud family-- but when you don’t have that income. losing about 20,000 dollars in a household income in the corse of a year you know not even counting the medical bills that will have to be paid. You know he didn’t how he was going to pay for his household’s heat for this winter and apparently, he’s over-income so all we could do for him was a donation.”

Mcatee says that they are there to help your neighbors, friends, and other folks in the community who have fallen on hard times.

Mcatee said, “So anyone who finds themselves in a situation where they are below a quarter of a tank, and they don’t know how they will be able to fill their tank moving forward should call. We do have a robust set of programs and options but we also have some discretionary funds that were donated from the community.”

And some of that community support is through the emergency fund that we will be raising money for during our telethon this Thursday.