Fuel Assistance Programs Warn that Winter Is Coming

Winter is right around the corner and with it come high heating oil costs. Local authorities want the community to know that help is available for those who will need it.

“A lot of people think don’t think they qualify but if people think they need help, don’t worry about it, just come in.” said Gerald C. Walsh, the fuel assistance director at Southern New Hampshire Services. The SNHS area of service is the 65 towns and three cities in Rockingham and Hillsborough Counties.

Walsh, a Londonderry native with more than two decades of experience in the affordable housing field, stresses that all people in the area are welcome to visit or call the Rockingham Community Action office in Derry to get information about fuel assistance and other programs that are offered through SNHS. Many clients begin the application process in July but applications are accepted throughout the season. Assistance is available to both renters and homeowners.

SNHS and Rockingham Community Action also offers assistance in other areas, not just with fuel. Help is also available in the form of the Electric Assistance Program. These programs typically require applicants to be below certain income level guidelines. However, help is also available though the Neighbor Helping Neighbor Program for individuals and families who exceed those income guidelines and who are experiencing financial stress. The NHN program makes funds available to use for both electrical and natural gas expenses.

The Weatherization Program helps make homes more energy efficient through federal funding from The Department of Energy and with funds from Liberty Utilities, Eversource Energy, Unitil, and NH Electric Co-Op.

Help with energy costs are only a part of what Southern New Hampshire Services and Rockingham Community Action does. When a client comes to SNHS seeking services, the agency assess all of their needs and offer information, assistance and referrals to programs and organizations that can help meet those needs. Nutritional help and child care assistance is available for new mothers. Elderly residents who meet certain income guidelines also qualify for help if they require it. Support is available for people going through anticipated short term financial emergencies. People of all ages who struggle with homelessness, financial literacy, tax issues, language skills and employment can also be helped through SNHS.

When asked if people need to reach rock bottom before they call the agency, Walsh replied that rock bottom is a hard thing to define but; “people who don’t think they qualify for services may actually qualify. If a person is having to make choices about getting a new muffler, paying rent, buying medication or groceries, they should reach out to us.”

“This is where we are so valuable in the community, we are here so they don’t have to make those choices,” Walsh said. He wants people to “look at us as a neighbor in town, not an organization.”

For more information, call Southern New Hampshire Services at 603-965-3029 or 855-295-4105. You can also visit them at their office on 9 Crystal Avenue in Derry.

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