Staying warm during the winter is becoming more difficult for many families in Virginia. Social service workers say they are seeing an increase in people applying for help, but the deadline is fast approaching.
Katrina Robinson is taking care of five children on a low income. She couldn't afford the electrical bill which came to more than $300 a month. That's when she learned about Fuel Assistance from the Virginia Department of Social Services Energy Assistance Program. It's a federal program managed by the state and individual social services departments.
"Their benefit is actually based on their household size, their income and what type of fuel they are using," said Regina Trueheart, the benefit program specialist supervisor.
For example: to qualify, a one-person household cannot have an income more than $1,211 a month. A five-person household cannot make more than $2,927 a month.
Social services counselors with the City of Richmond say they've already sent out more than 7,000 pre approved applications for heat assistance. Most of those people live south of the river or in Church Hill.
"Some people just can't afford it, some of them will cut off their primary source of heating," says Trueheart.
The program helps with any source of heat from electric to portable heaters. The social services department keeps track of what kind of heating source the person uses and will monitor if it changes. Robinson is no longer using the program but encourages others to look into it now.
"They helped me greatly because I had a disconnection notice so they called the company and stopped me from getting my lights terminated," she said.
The deadline to apply is November 9.
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