Program to Help Low-Income North Dakotans with Heating Costs is Now Accepting Applications

Winters in North Dakota have a dramatic effect on home heating costs. The ND Department of Human Services is reminding low-income individuals and families that help is available through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). Applications are now being accepted at county social services in North Dakota.

This program is federally funded and helps qualifying households in need of assistance pay a portion of  their home heating costs. This includes natural gas, electricity, propane, coal, fuel oil, wood, or kerosene. The program also covers the repairs of furnaces and weatherization services.

There are income and asset limits to qualify for the program. This ensures that the program helps those most in need. To qualify, a household can earn up to 60 percent of the state median income, which for a family of three, is about $43,430 per year before taxes.

Applications will be accepted at local county social services offices from October 1, 2014 through May 31, 2015. An application is available online at www.nd.gov/eforms/Doc/sfn00529.pdf . The application as well as documentation to verify assets and income levels should be completed and returned to the social services office.

Last year, this program helped just over 13,000 households and paid an average of $1,320 in heating energy costs for each household. The program pays fuel vendors directly on behalf of the qualifying households. About two-thirds of the participating households include people who are elderly, have disabilities, or include children age five and younger.

The ND Department of Human Services contracts with the ND Department of Commerce for weatherization services to help lower heating costs. The weatherization services include home insulation, furnace repair, and other energy-saving improvements to help lower heating costs. The direct work is often carried about by community action agencies.

For more information, visit www.nd.gov/dhs/services/financialhelp/energyassist.html

 

Information thanks to LuWanna Lawrence and Heather Steffl from ND Department of Human Services.

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Text-to-911 will be coming to North Dakota

Texting has changed the way people communicate and it has really changed the game for about 55.5 million Americans who have hearing loss, deafness, or speech disabilities. Seven out of ten Americans prefer texting to voice calls. This is where text-to-911 comes into play.

 

The Federal Communication Commission (FCC) has made a ruling that will make the ability to text 911 available across the nation. Text-to-911 is the ability to send a text message to reach 911 emergency call takers from your mobile phone or device.  The FCC, texting providers, and 911 call centers are all working together to make this happen.

 

The ability to text 911 is crucial for many emergency situations. Here are a few examples of when texting 911 can be used: the wireless carrier signal isn’t strong enough for a call, a medical crisis took away the person’s ability to speak, and texting in a situation where the person needs to hide and be quiet.

 

Text-to-911 will not be replacing the current voice services so if you prefer to call, a call can still be made. The ability to text 911 is only there to complement current services offered by 911 call centers. If a voice call to 911 is possible, that should still be the first choice. Text-to-911 should be reserved for specific situations.

 

An announcement later this year will give the date of availability for text-to-911 in North Dakota.

For more information, visit the FCC website.