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The Doing Good blog follows area charities and social service agencies.

About Amy Umble: Amy Umble writes about religion and social issues affecting the Fredericksburg community. You can email her at aumble@freelancestar.com.

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Help is available for people who need to chill out

acWith Virginia’s severe summer heat and humidity, staying cool is not a luxury, but rather a health and safety issue.

This time of year, indoor temperatures can quickly reach the same extreme levels as outdoors, leading to life-threatening conditions.  For people who can’t afford to cool their homes, there is help available.

Local departments of social services are now accepting Cooling Assistance applications now through Aug. 15, as part of the Virginia Department of Social Services’  Energy Assistance Program.

 

Cooling Assistance is available to households with a child under 6 years of age, a person with a disability, or an adult aged 60 or older living in the home who meet the program’s income and eligibility requirements. To qualify for Cooling Assistance this year, the maximum gross monthly income (before taxes) for a one-person household is $1,265 and $2,584 for a household of four.

 

Types of available cooling assistance include:

  • ·         Payment of electric bills to operate cooling equipment;
  • ·         Payment of security deposits for electricity to operate cooling equipment;
  • ·         Repair of a central air conditioning system or heat pump;
  • ·         Purchase of a whole-house fan, including ceiling or attic fans; and
  • ·         Purchase and installation of a window unit air conditioner for households without a working one.

 

Those deemed eligible may qualify for more than one type of assistance. The Energy Assistance Program is funded by the federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program block grant; the amount Virginia receives to disburse to recipients varies from year-to-year depending on the appropriation made by Congress. Assistance is available until funds are depleted.

 

Families and individuals must apply with their local department of social services or online via CommonHelp by Aug. 15.

 

The Cooling Assistance component served more than 70,000 Virginia households last year. To learn more, visit http://www.dss.virginia.gov/benefit/ea/cooling/index.cgi, call 2-1-1 VIRGINIA or visit www.211virginia.org.

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