The Orange County Fuel Fund, a partnership between Orange County Government and United Way of the Dutchess-Orange Region, will begin to accept applications from Orange County residents who need assistance to pay a portion of their home heating expenses, but who do not qualify for the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) on Monday, November 14th.
“As winter approaches, many Orange County residents are beginning to think about the reality of heating expenses,” said Jeannie Montano, President & CEO of United Way of the Dutchess-Orange Region. “Consumers at risk should find out if they are eligible for assistance through the Orange County Fuel Fund, so they do not have to make the difficult choice between heating their homes or other basic necessities. Last winter, thanks to funding from the Orange County Government, the Fuel Fund contributed almost $55,000 to help 372 households stay warm.”
Beginning today, November 14th, Orange County residents may apply for a one-time annual assistance grant to pay for all types of home heating fuel expenses including electric, natural gas, kerosene, oil, and propane. Grant amounts range from $700.00 to $1100.00, depending on the type of heating fuel used. Grants to applicants who are eligible for heating assistance will be paid upon approval directly to the consumer’s heating provider. The Orange County Fuel Fund operates on a first-come, first-served basis and is not set up as an emergency fund.
Carolyn* and her husband John*, 79-year-old residents of the New Hampton/Middletown area, found themselves making the choice between necessities and paying for heat and each winter found John cutting trees his back yard to feed their wood stove for warmth as they could not afford fuel. The grant from the Orange County Fuel Fund was a “life saver.” Even though they were reluctant to apply for help as they had always been self-sufficient, during the application process they were relieved to hear that this grant was a “hand-up, not a hand-out” and are incredibly thankful to both United Way and the Orange County Government for this needed support. (*not their real names)
Each year, the Fuel Fund eligibility requirements change, so if you applied in the past and did not receive a grant, please apply again. Raymond, a senior citizen from Middletown, was not eligible in 2015 and went without fuel all February when it was so cold. He said he was afraid he’d catch pneumonia and that his pet companions would die. Although his neighbors gave him electric blankets and heaters his income was $75 too much to qualify for the Fuel Fund. Pat Fayo, Director of Energy Initiatives at United Way, called him last fall when the income guidelines changed and Raymond qualified for assistance for winter 2016. He now calls her his “guardian angel,” as he doesn’t think he could have gone through another winter running out of fuel during the coldest month. “United Way, Orange County and Pat Fayo really care about people.”
To find out if your Orange County household is eligible for assistance from the Orange County Fuel Fund or to complete an application online, visit www.ocfuelfund.org. Residents can also download the application, print, and mail the application form to: United Way of the Dutchess-Orange Region, 30 Scott’s Corners Drive, Suite 102, Montgomery, NY 12549, Attn: Orange County Fuel Fund, or fax the completed from to 845-457-4702.
Orange County Fuel Fund personnel also can help with HEAP, SNAP, and Medicaid applications.
Please note that income and household restrictions apply and proper documentation is required. Orange County residents deemed eligible will need to submit all required documentation to the Orange County FuelFund program administrator. Go to www.ocfuelfund.org to see eligibility and documentation requirements or call 845-457-4774 ext 3112.
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