Editor’s note: This article has undergone a major update to clarify ways residents can get assistance with their energy bill
Over the next couple of months some families may find themselves strapped for cash when it comes to paying their utility bills. Heat, water and electricity are essential for a quality life anytime of the year, but during a Wisconsin winter, they take precedence.
Cleopatra Echols is the program manager for the Milwaukee County Energy Assistance Program. Ms. Echols explained that each year, Milwaukee County receives funding from the State of Wisconsin – Division of Energy, Housing and Community Resources. This funding provides energy assistance to those in need.
Energy assistance is available during the heating season, which runs from Oct. 1 to May 15 but individuals can apply for assistance thought-out the benefit season Oct. 1- Sep. 30 and they may qualify for crisis assistance and other services. If a Milwaukee County resident qualifies, he or she can receive a one-time payment that will go towards their heating and electric bills. As well as be eligible for furnace repair/replacement and weatherization services.
Ms. Echols said the first step is checking eligibility. Residents can check if they are eligible using this chart.
2019-2020 HOME ENERGY INCOME GUIDELINES
If a person is eligible or if they need help determining their eligibility, the next step is to make an appointment. Residents can call (414) 270-4653 or click here to make an appointment online. Milwaukee County residents can schedule an appointment by phone or online at the following locations.
Northwest: 4906 W. Fond du Lac Ave.
North: 6900 W. Brown Deer Rd. #100
Downtown: 728 N. James Lovell St.
West Allis: 6761 W. Greenfield Ave.
Southeast: 2701 S. Chase Ave.
South: 5663 S. 27th St.
An appointment can take anywhere between 15 minutes to 30 minutes or longer depending on how prepared the applicant is. She said it’s important that clients bring the required documents to ensure that the process can move along. House visits can be made for the elderly or disabled upon request.
The requirements include:
1. A photo ID
2. Social security numbers and birth dates for everyone in the household
3. The current gas, electric or energy bill or the lease or letter from your landlord stating that heat is included in the rent
4. Proof of the entire household’s income sources from the past three months, including child support, wages, pension, unemployment, etc.
5. Seasonal workers and self-employed persons need to bring last year’s entire tax package. Rental income must be verified by taxes and schedule E.
Although Energy Assistance provides a one-time payment, some residents may experience a crisis. A crisis means that the household has no heat, has received a disconnection notice or is nearly out of fuel and is unable to afford a refill.
If a household requires crisis assistance, they can call (414) 270-4653. A person must apply for the energy assistance program to be eligible for crisis assistance and crisis assistance depends on the availability of funds.
Residents who are part of the Energy Assistance Program may be eligible for additional services during heating season, Oct. 1 to Sep 30. The Energy Assistance Program works in partnership with three local weatherization agencies to provide weatherization and furnace services.
If a furnace, boiler or other heating system fails, and it is after hours (after 5pm and on the weekends) residents should call 211 for assistance. Households may be able to receive assistance to repair or replace the heating system.
If a house needs additional fuel, the Energy Assistance Program may be able to help cover some of the cost.
For more information on the energy crisis, check out the Journal Sentinel’s article on crisis utility assistance.
Did we miss an organization that provided energy assistance? Post it in the comments below or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.