DSS has energy funds

Published 3:37 am Friday, July 9, 2010


Staff Writer
With 90-plus-degree days common, 100-degree days less than a rarity and drought encroaching on portions of the state, the Beaufort County Department of Social Services recently reported it had run out of crisis-intervention money to assist needy people with their utility bills.
The onset of the so-far-sweltering summer brought a rush of eligible residents to DSS’ door to seek monetary help with soaring energy costs.
“Now that it’s hot enough we don’t have any money,” Sonya Toman, DSS director, told the Washington Daily News late last month.
But, with the new fiscal year beginning last week, DSS officials learned the county was set to receive $94,484 in crisis-intervention funds.
According to an e-mail from Sylvia King, income-maintenance administrator, “A household is in crisis if it is experiencing or is in danger of experiencing a life-threatening or health-related emergency and sufficient, timely, and appropriate assistance is not available from any other source.”
King says a crisis exists when a qualifying household experiences unexpected expenses, a loss or decrease in income, a job loss or a prolonged illness.
A household that has no cooling source, receives a cut-off notice from a utility company or whose cooling source “is in jeopardy” also qualifies, she says.
A two- to three-day stretch of temperatures over 90 degrees makes the crisis-assistance program kick in, King related.
The program also has a cold-weather component that typically gets triggered during the coldest winter months.
“The maximum allowed benefit amount per eligible household is $600,” King wrote, adding that the home must house “a U.S. citizen or eligible alien.”
Residents who have questions about the program may contact Theresa Porter, crisis-intervention program supervisor, at 940-6100 or call King at 940-6077.