Assistance with Energy Costs
Energy Share of Montana provides one-time only assistance to Montanans facing emergency heating needs. Clients include "working poor" who do not qualify for government programs but are in need of assistance. Energy Share contracts with the Human Resource Development Councils (HRDCs) around the state to determine eligibility and distribute funds. Questions or more details may be addressed to the statewide office at 406-442-4900 or 1-888-779-7589.
Reverse Annuity Mortgage (RAM) - The Montana Board of Housing implemented the RAM program in October of 1990. Lower income seniors, 68 years or older may borrow against the equity in their homes to increase their disposable income. This additional income may be used to cover utility expenses, medication, food, etc. Contact: Justin Schedel, with the Montana Board of Housing at 800-761-6264
The State of Montana, through the Department of Public Health and Human Services, offers three programs aimed at helping low-income individuals reduce their heating costs.
Who Is Eligible? Eligibility for weatherization and fuel assistance is based on your income and assets. To be eligible, you must make no more than 200 percent of the federal poverty level, or 75 percent of the state's estimated median income for FFY 2011. Both homeowners and renters may apply for these programs. If your household receives benefits from Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program, you may qualify automatically for weatherization or fuel assistance.
When to Apply? You may apply for weatherization assistance at any time during the year. You may apply for fuel bill assistance from October 1 through April 30.
How to Apply? To find out where to apply for energy assistance, contact the Montana Citizen's Advocate, toll-free, at 1-800-332-2272. Or visit the energy assistance eligibility office nearest you. You can download an application form from this Web site. However, most tribes have their own application materials, which are available at tribal energy assistance offices.
In addition to an application form, you will also be asked to supply the following:
- Social Security Number, proof of citizenship, or lawful entry into the U.S. with the intent of establishing permanent residency, for all household members
- Photo identification for all household members over age 18. For household members under age 18, birth certificates must be provided if you don't have a photo ID.
- a recent copy of your utility or fuel supplier bill (unless you heat with wood); and
- copies of income records such as stubs for wages, unemployment compensation or child support, interest income, retirement benefits, alimony payments, Social Security, self-employment, and property income.
All records and information provided by you or obtained through verification are confidential and are not available to the public. After applying for weatherization and/or fuel assistance, you will be sent a letter of notification. It will tell you whether you are eligible for assistance and what benefits you may expect to receive. If you think you haven't received the right amount of assistance, inform the eligibility worker immediately. You may ask for a hearing if you disagree with any action taken as a result of your application.
These are equal opportunity programs. If you believe you've been discriminated against because of race, color, national origin, age, sex, marital status, disability, political beliefs, or religion, write or call the state Office of Fair Hearings, P.O. Box 202953, Helena MT 59620-2953; 406-444-2470.
Weatherization Assistance: All approved applications are ranked according to degree of need and placed in "priority groups." Special priority is given to older adults and disabled individuals. If your application is approved but you're not in a priority group-and if you don't receive assistance within a year of your application date- please reapply.
An energy auditor will set up a time to visit with you about your home's needs for weatherization materials. The auditor is trained to determine the most cost-effective weatherization measures for your home. These measures may include a furnace tune-up, caulking, client education, insulation, weather-stripping, storm windows, replacement of broken glass, or repair of exterior doors. Weatherization workers may not be able to install all the materials you need, but they will do the most important weatherization within the dollar limits allowed. In some cases it may not be cost effective to install any weatherization measures. When your home is scheduled for weatherization work, a crew or an independent contractor will come to install the necessary materials in your home. After the work is completed, you will be asked to sign a statement indicating that you believe the work was done properly and to your satisfaction.
Fuel Bill Assistance: If you are eligible for fuel assistance, the payment amount is figured according to your household income, the size and type of your home, and the kind and cost of fuel. Most often, payments are made directly to your utility company or fuel supplier.