(As announced in the Siskiyou Daily News on May 8th, 2018 and the Mt. Shasta Area Newspapers on May 16th, 2016)
Due to changes in state regulations this year, Great Northern Services has more funding available for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). “In the first quarter of 2018 we were able to help 732 families with over $326,000 toward their energy expenses. This represents a 62% increase in funds spent over the same time period last year,” says Claudia Trevisan, Energy Coordinator at Great Northern Services, “and it means we were able to help more than twice as many families.”
LIHEAP helps residents across Siskiyou County heat their homes; something very expensive in a county that experiences such an extreme range of temperatures. “If it weren’t for the help buying propane I would have been one cold puppy—it would have been a very tough winter,” says recipient Bill Buffalo. “I’m a veteran with not too many benefits and on a fixed income. I was using my credit cards and getting into debt.”
According to the Campaign for Home Energy Assistance, more than 6 million American households receive help through the LIHEAP program each year. Without this assistance, many of those households would have to choose between heating their homes and buying enough food. “Energy Assistance makes a huge difference to me. I’m on Social Security and it’s not much,” says Don Phillips of Mt. Shasta. “I have to watch every penny I spend—even with the assistance. Having Great Northern Services help with my power bill frees up money for food.”
LIHEAP is a federally funded program administered through the state. To meet federal requirements the State of California requires that a local provider, like Great Northern Services, uses a priority point system to ensure that the most vulnerable clients receive help first. In the past, limited funding meant that Great Northern Services was unable to assist clients who fell below a certain level of priority points. This increase in funding means that now they are able to assist an even greater number of those needing help.
“Income qualified residents of Siskiyou County can apply for energy assistance once per program year and if we are able to assist them, they receive help with one form of energy: their power bill, vouchers for fire wood, payment to their kerosene vendor, etc.” says Coral Gross, Energy Director at Great Northern Services. “The additional funding from the state is allowing us to help more people, and to provide that help much faster.”
“It was just a couple of weeks before the oil company got the check and I got the oil—it didn’t take long at all,” said Annie Peterson, a Teaching Assistant at Weed Elementary who received energy assistance this year. “Everybody falls hard on their luck sometimes, and Great Northern Services is always willing to help.”
“Not every client can be helped that quickly,” says Nichole McCown, Marketing Assistant at Great Northern Services, “It’s important to apply before you receive a shut off notice. It takes time to process your application and you want to avoid a service interruption.”
Application packets are available at Great Northern Services, 310 Boles St. in Weed, Monday – Thursday 9 AM – 4 PM, at local Family/Community Resource Centers around Siskiyou County, online at gnservices.org or by phone (530) 938-4115 extension 120.