County's heating assistance program already feeling the pinch

NORWICH – Individuals and families receiving public assistance to heat their homes are finding it difficult to stay ahead of the blowing snow and colder temperatures that came on early this winter.

More people are making application with the Chenango County Department of Social Services to receive their 2010/2011 Home Energy Assistance Program allocations.

Some are doing so after they’ve already depleted existing supplies.

“We normally don’t see the numbers that we are seeing this early,” said Sharon Sutherland, HEAP program director for DSS. Caseworkers have been personally faxing their clients’ regular suppliers to request that their fuel be delivered and to guarantee payment.

DSS is also starting to see people who have already gone through their first regular HEAP installment and need to apply for an emergency allowance. Sutherland said she is concerned because Congress hasn’t determined whether a second emergency HEAP payout will be available to states in the 2011/2012 season.

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