As summer heat settles in, DSS cooling aid program opens

By: Michael Campbell | Twitter: @itsthesoup
Posted: July 2, 2019 | 1:45 p.m.

DINWIDDIE – Summer officially started last Friday but, summertime heat moved in well before then as much of the region has spent days on end in the upper 80s and lower 90s, forcing air conditioning units to put in overtime but for some in the community, using air conditioning can be expensive, resulting in tough and health threatening decisions.

Now, the Dinwiddie Department of Social Services is reminding those who need cooling assistance that their office is accepting applications as part of the statewide program offered annually by the Commonwealth.

The cooling assistance program, according to state social services representatives, “provides purchase or repair of cooling equipment and/or payment for electricity to operate cooling equipment” and is available to those living in the county who meet specific eligibility requirements: their household contains “at least one vulnerable individual who is 60 years or older, is living with a disability, or is under age six,” along with other requirements.

As part of the program, those eligible can receive assistance in the purchase and installation of a window air conditioning unit, the repair of a central air unit, and with the payment of an electric bill, among others.

With Dinwiddie’s aging population and the warm weather already making its presence felt in the county, officials with the county’s social services office reported to the board of supervisors last week, when applications began being accepted on June 15, within days, they had over 100 applications that had been submitted either through the state’s online service or in-person at their offices.

One thing officials with the Dinwiddie Department of Social Services stressed was that those who have applied for assistance should continue to make some form of payment arrangement for their energy bills as their application is processed.

Understanding that transportation can be a challenge for those seeking out this service, the agency held a two-day event at Eastside Enhancement Center and the Ragsdale Community Center respectively to allow for the community to come out and ask questions about the application process and provide them with valuable resources.

Those wishing to utilize the program should submit their applications as soon as possible as, according to officials, assistance “is based on the availability of funds,” per officials with the local social services office, the maximum benefit available to an applicant is $400.

To learn more about the cooling assistance program, contact the Dinwiddie County Department of Social Services office at 804-469-4524 or visit them at the Dinwiddie County Government Center at 14010 Boydton Plank Road in Dinwiddie.

In addition, the Virginia Department of Social Services website offers resources and an online application process for this and other programs at http://dss.virginia.gov/benefit/ea.

Applications will be accepted through August 15.

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