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Heating assistance funds boost by Congress should keep heat on through worst weather

WILLMAR -- An emergency appropriation for heating assistance approved by Congress should help keep the heat on through the worst of winter in the homes of those being helped by the Heartland Community Action Agency in Willmar.

WILLMAR -- An emergency appropriation for heating assistance approved by Congress should help keep the heat on through the worst of winter in the homes of those being helped by the Heartland Community Action Agency in Willmar.

Patricia Elizondo, director of the heating assistance program for Heartland, said an omnibus bill approved earlier by Congress provided a $139,000 infusion of heating assistance funds for the agency. The agency is helping provide heating assistance funds for more than 2,400 households in the counties of Kandiyohi, Meeker, and McLeod this season.

Demand for heating assistance funds has been high this winter, due both to rising fuel costs and the economy. The situation has been made worse by the recent cold snap. Since its start, the agency has seen about 10 applicants a day for heating assistance, she said.

The agency had exhausted its original appropriation of $1,035,325 in heating assistance funds at the start of the new year. It was tapping $42,000 in crisis funds to help see households through until Congress approved the additional funding for the program.

At the current pace, Elizondo said it appears the funds will cover this area's needs to March. If that proves true, it would mark the earliest the season's heating assistance funds have been used up, she said.

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She encourages those in need of heating assistance help to contact the office as funds remain available. The funds are awarded based on income guidelines.

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