(as published in the Mt. Shasta Area Newspapers on 8/5/2020)
Local non-profit Great Northern Services (GNS) is receiving additional funding for their Energy Assistance program through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. That program, normally funded by the Low-Income Home Energy Program (LIHEAP), helps qualified households pay electric bills, get credit on their kerosene or propane accounts, or assists them with firewood delivery.
According to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the CARES Act provides “supplemental LIHEAP funding to help ‘prevent, prepare for, or respond to’ home energy needs surrounding the national emergency created by the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).”
“California’s CARES Act Energy Assistance Program extends service preference to applicants who have received unemployment-related benefits from the EDD,” say Nichole Smith, Energy General Manager at GNS, “This will help to mitigate the economic impacts the pandemic has had on California’s workforce.”
According to GNS Siskiyou County residents who income-qualify can apply for Energy Assistance online, through the mail, or by visiting their local Resource Center. “Our partnership with the Family / Community Resource Centers around the county is so valuable,” says Marie-Josée Wells, GNS’ Executive Director, “The centers give people an accessible and approachable way to receive assistance with applications, find resources, and be supported.”
Those who have never applied for Energy Assistance before might find they appreciate that support. “We expect to see many new clients this year,” says Smith, “The program calculates income off the last 30 days, and we’re seeing a lot of applicants who didn’t qualify in past years.”
GNS says this new influx of qualified households isn’t expected to negatively affect the program. “The CARES Act funding is above and beyond what we expected to have available for Energy Assistance this year,” Smith adds, “We will be able to provide assistance both to families whose income dropped due to COVID-19 and to the vulnerable populations that LIHEAP traditionally prioritizes.”
Great Northern Services is a community based nonprofit focused on helping low-income households become economically self-sufficient and boosting sustainability for the rural communities in Siskiyou County. Apply for Energy assistance online at gnservices.org/apply or call (530) 938-4115 ext.120 for an application.