Rockingham County, NC -- A lot of families across the Piedmont Triad are only one paycheck away from food stamps. Add winter heating bills to the pile and sleeping in the cold through the winter months for some feels like the only option.
"It gets a little tight sometimes because prices keep going up, heat keeps going up, food keeps going up, and it's a little tough," said 75-year-old Everett Shelton.
Shelton lives in Rockingham County and worked as a trucker his entire life.
"I started out driving pretty young," he said.
When he retired he says he found out his employers retirement fund had no funds. "I'm all I have," said the elderly man who now lives alone in a modest home in Eden.
Like many of us, Everett has bills to pay; lots of them: medical bills, car insurance, rent, prescription medicine, etc.
"How I live is on social security, monthly," Shelton said about his only source of income.
These days Everett has been able to take one worry off his list, heating bills.
"If it wasn't for the [Low Income Energy Assistance Program], I'll be in the hole after the very first of the month of winter, like December or January," said Everett.
Click on LIHEAP for information about the program.
The Rockingham County version of the federal program helped close to 800 families last year and is on track to do the same this winter.
"Rockingham County has been through a really rough 10 years and a lot of folks' unemployment has run out, folks are struggling," explained Larry Johnson, the county's director of human services. "I think there's a real, real need out there in our community for these types of programs."
The elderly, the disabled and families living below the poverty line can get up to $400 of their bills paid.
"We know it won't pay everybody's complete cost but it's a help," said Johnson.
And no one is more thankful than Everett whose bills continue to pile up.
"It's been a struggle but with the help of these people, I'm here," the 75-year-old said. "I'm warm in my home and I'm comfortable and I appreciate everything they do for me."
All counties run the energy assistance program. The elderly and disabled should turn their applications in now. The process began December 1st.
After the "critical group" have been served, low income families can turn their applications in starting March 1st.
There funds are limited and it's first come first serve. Call your local social services department for help. Below are the eligibility guidelines set forth by the federal government:
Applicants who may apply now include:
• Households with a person who is 60 years or older; or
• Households with a disabled adult, who receives services through programs offered by the Division of Aging and Adult Services
• All other households will be eligible to apply for the LIEAP starting February 1, 2013, depending on the availability of funding.
A household that applies must:
• Have at least one U.S. citizen or non-citizen who meets the eligibility criteria
• Meet an income test
• Have reserves at or below $2,200
• Be responsible for it's heating bills
Another big change in the last couple of years, food stamp recipients are no longer automatically enrolled.
You will have to apply to be considered.
For those who don't meet the income requirement or fall in the categories below, there's emergency help if your heat gets shut off.
Another big change in the last couple of years, food stamp recipients are no longer automatically enrolled. You will have to apply to be considered. For those who don't meet the income requirement or fall in the categories below, there's emergency help if your heat gets shut off.
The local charities below offer crisis heating help:
The Greensboro Urban Ministry (336) 271-5993
The Salvation Army - find your local office
Open Door Ministry in High Point (336) 885-0191
Crisis Control Ministry in Forsyth County (336) 996-5401/724-7875
Allied Churches of Alamance County (336) 222-0749
WFMY News 2