First snow of season means it’s time to sign up for heating assistance

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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (Nov. 20, 2015) -- As snow rolls in for the first time this season, agencies that hand out heating assistance expect to get busier.

"It definitely follows the weather patterns," Thom Hartnett, with South Central Community Action Program, or SCCAP, said.

With cold weather comes heat and with heat, come heating bills, meaning the office at SCCAP is about to get busy.

"We try to be very accessible to the public," Hartnett said.

Hartnett runs the energy assistance program for Monroe, Morgan, Owen, and Brown counties. He has counterparts all over the state who dole out millions in federal and state funds to help Hoosiers with their heating bills.

The program officially started at the beginning of November and Harnett's office has already signed up 1,200 households, but he said that's only about a quarter of the people they expect to help this winter.

"This week, we have seen quite a dramatic jump in our traffic," Hartnett said.

If you need help, now is the time to ask for it, though there is no deadline to apply. You must qualify financially, but Hartnett said if you're not sure it's best to apply anyways.

Once you're accepted into a program, you get a credit on your heating and electric bills and you can't be turned off between December and March if your bill is in good standing on December 1.

Even if it seems like a mild winter so far, Hartnett suggested you start the process sooner rather than later. You do not have to be disconnected or in a crisis situation to get assistance.

"I think the more people we see in this program, the better off we are. We know that we are reaching these people and helping these people," Hartnett said.

For assistance in Monroe, Morgan, Owen and Brown counties, click the link here. If you live in another county, click the link here. Marion County residents should call 211 for help.