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Column: Energy assistance available to Carlton County residents

Carlton County residents can apply for energy assistance through Lakes and Pines Community Action Council. More details here:

Michael Spilman
Michael Spilman, Energy Programs Director, Lakes and Pines Community Action Council
Contributed / Lakes and Pines Community Action Council
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Lakes and Pines Community Action Council, Inc. has been serving communities, families and individuals for 57 years.

Lakes and Pines serves seven counties in east central Minnesota: Aitkin, Carlton, Chisago, Isanti, Kanabec, Mille Lacs and Pine. Staff are committed to helping make our communities a better place to live and the lives of customers served better as well.

Lakes and Pines offers a variety of programs including Head Start, energy assistance, weatherization, emergency housing, housing rehabilitation, senior services, financial fitness and volunteer income tax assistance. In addition, Lakes and Pines may be able to assist in completing applications for Social Security, MNSure or SNAP Food Support. The programs mentioned above are only a few of the programs and assistance offered.

Here is an inside look into the Energy Assistance Program. LIHEAP is the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program — better known as the Energy Assistance Program (EAP). The EAP program helps low-income families and individuals throughout the winter and spring months with heating and electrical costs. Households receive a grant sent directly to their utility companies in an effort to help stretch the dollars coming into their home.

The EAP program, on average, receives 7,000 applications each season with approximately 6,200 approved to receive assistance. Anyone interested in applying can do so in a number of ways. Applications can be found on our website at www.lakesandpines.org, at food shelves, at county Human Services offices or you can call to request one be mailed directly to you at 800-832-6082, option #2. Please contact Lakes and Pines to inquire about Energy Assistance or any other concerns you may be facing, such as furnace repair or replacement.

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Unfortunately, at times there is simply not enough funding to help every person walking through the doors. Currently, the Lakes and Pines Energy Assistance Program is facing funding cuts as the program is no longer receiving additional COVID-19 Relief Funds. Energy Assistance grant amounts are much lower than previous years even though heating costs keep rising. This puts more strain on households, forcing them to make choices they should not have to make, such as having to choose between paying for their energy bills, food, medication or basic needs. However, some good news for households that are approved for Energy Assistance is the crisis amount that households can access in an emergency changed from $600 to $1,500.

Lakes and Pines prides itself on being a hand up, not a hand out, as everyone deserves to be able to have their basic needs met.

To sum up Lakes and Pines, our mission statement says it best: "Our Mission is to build prosperous communities by serving local families and individuals in their pursuit of self-reliance." Lakes and Pines staff are dedicated to helping make lives better in our communities and are just a phone call away to answer questions, assist with applications and provide resources and referrals.

Lakes and Pines' main office is located at 1700 Maple Avenue East, Mora and is open from 6 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Additional office locations are 39555 Flink Avenue, North Branch, and 221 Elm Avenue, Moose Lake. The North Branch and Moose Lake locations are open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Please contact Lakes and Pines if you or someone you know are facing a crisis or are looking for employment or volunteer opportunities by calling 800-832-6082 or 320-679-1800, at www.lakesandpines.org or on Facebook. Lakes and Pines staff are ready and waiting to assist you.

Michael Spilman is the Energy Programs Director for Lakes and Pines Community Action Council.

Related Topics: NONPROFITSCARLTON COUNTY
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