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Cold weather is bad news for struggling families

Added on Monday, October 29, 2018

The cold has arrived in Minnesota. That is bad news for some people and families who are struggling to pay their energy bill. Just one unexpected expense can be the difference between them living in a home that is warm vs. one that is not.

Take, for example, this real-life story submitted by a Twin Cities Salvation Army caseworker:

A couple came into my office looking for help with their heating bill. The husband was recently in a terrible car accident that left him badly injured and without a left leg. He is now unemployed, and his wife receives only a small Social Security benefit each month. With medical bills on top of their regular bills, the couple was in trouble.

Thankfully, there is Salvation Army HeatShare program– an energy assistance initiative that provides funding for natural gas, electricity, propane, and other resources for people with no place left to turn.   

Through HeatShare, this caseworker was able to pay a portion of the couple’s energy bill and get them caught up.

“I was thankful I could use HeatShare funds to take away some of their burden,” the caseworker said.

Another caseworker shared this HeatShare success story:

An elderly man needed help paying his monthly electric bill. As we talked, I learned that he had been without hot water for many weeks because he could not afford to fill his propane tank. Through HeatShare, I was able to help this man with both his electric bill and his propane tank. He was overjoyed. For the first time in many weeks, he was able to take a warm shower.

HeatShare is unlike other energy assistance programs because it’s based almost exclusively on need. Though families must first prove they’ve been denied county or other assistance, their eligibility for HeatShare is determined by only two factors: need, and available HeatShare funding.

“Sometimes bad things happen to families that are doing everything right,” said Mike McGlone, HeatShare director. “That’s where HeatShare comes in. It’s a safety net for people in dire financial circumstances.”

Sign up for energy assistance

The Twin Cities Salvation Army will host an energy assistance sign-up day on Wednesday, Oct. 31 from 3–7 p.m. at The Salvation Army in North Minneapolis, 2024 Lyndale Ave. N.

CenterPoint Energy, Xcel Energy, and Community Action will be on hand to offer services associated with gas and electric utilities during the heating season.

Photo I.D. and verification of income are required in order to sign up for services.

Please join The Salvation Army by volunteering or making a donation to support your local community. Stay current on how The Salvation Army is changing lives in Minnesota and North Dakota by signing up for our e-Newsletters.