New Opportunities Helps Heat Area Homes

Monday, February 7, 2011
Courtesy: 
Meriden Patch
Meriden, CT

Laura Battaglia and her husband needed a new furnace. But the Southington couple was living on disability payments, and the $6,000 cost of the appliance would have broken the bank.

That’s when they turned to New Opportunities. The Meriden branch of the nonprofit organization not only paid for the furnace, but also insulated the couple’s attic and storage space so that the home would lose less heat.

“You’re so anxious, thinking ‘Where am I going to get all this money?’” Battaglia said. Since the organization came in to help, “It’s taken a lot of stress away from me.”

It’s been a brutal winter. For those who are struggling to get by, paying those utility bills may be next to impossible.

More than 6,000 people in the greater Meriden area – including Berlin, Southington and Wallingford – are looking to New Opportunities for help with heating their homes, according to community services director Larry Elliot.

With money from the federal and state government, the organization provides funds and sometimes labor to help heat the houses of people in need.

There are two main programs administered by the branch: the Connecticut Energy Assistance Program (CEAP), and Operation Fuel.

CEAP pays a portion of periodic heating bills for low-income households. It also offers a once-a-year payout for those whose heat is included in their rent. To qualify, an applicant’s household income must be at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty level.

For a household of four, that would be$33,525. This family’s assistance would range from $640 – $840 per year.

Households with a senior over the age of 60 may still receive help if they have a larger income, up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level. That same four-person family would be able to make $44,700 all together, which would net them between $690 - $880.

Other limitations on liquid assets may apply. For more information, look at the state’s infoline site here. Or New Opportunities’ sitehere.

You can calculate the poverty level for various households by looking at the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services site here.

For those who have already gone through or are ineligible for CEAP funds, and are in crisis, Operation Fuel makes payments directly to a needy family’s fuel supplier.

These families have to make less than 60 percent of the Conecticut’s median income. For family of four in 2010, that would be $60,985.80, according to a state chart. Overall, if the maximum income of a family of 4 is $60,986, they can qualify for some form of assistance, Elliot said. The award amounts vary; the lowest amount is $580, but they change based on household size and income. Those whose income is less could get more.

“We usually use a household of 4, which is average, but we have families of one or two persons,” said Elliot, adding that “It is a pleasure for me to serve anyone and especially our most vulnerable population who are in need whether through generational or situational problems and issues.”

For more information on the different forms of heating assistance available to you, you can look at the New Opportunities website at www.newoppinc.org, or phone the Meriden office at 203-235-0278.

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