The following article is on page 5B of today’s edition of The Monroe News:

MCOP wants to help pay utility bills this winter

By Danielle Portteus

The Monroe County Op­portunity Program has ad­ditional funding this winter season to help residents who are struggling to pay utility bills.

MCOP received two Michigan Energy Assis­tance Program grants. The grants are $ 65,000 and $ 27,500 to be used to pay gas, electric, propane, fuel, wood and oil utility ex­penses.

Eligible households are capped at $ 3,000 for assis­tance.

Billie Jo Dye, MCOP’s di­rector of housing quality and energy services, said the grant money is in ad­dition to the money raised in November during the annual Walk for Warmth fundraiser. The walk raised about $ 11,700 and money is still coming in.

“Fourteen agencies are sharing the funding,” Ms. Dye said.

Among the other state agencies receiving money for utility assistant through the Michigan Energy As­sistance Program include the Salvation Army, Michi­gan Department of Human Services, DTE Energy and Consumers Energy.

Ms. Dye said 70 percent of the grant has to be spent before May before the re­maining 30 percent will be given to the agency to dis­tribute by September.

“Don’t wait until it’s shut off,” Ms. Dye said. “Anyone who has run into a util­ity crisis or has a simple hardship based on income could qualify.”

Residents who are inter­ested in applying for the utility assistance should bring the utility bill, proof of all household income from the last 30 days for those 18 and older; pic­ture ID for all adults in the household; proof of indi­viduals within the house; Social Security card, proof of all monthly bills paid.

Proof of income includes paycheck stubs, Social Se­curity income or disability payments, child support, unemployment, self-em­ployment, food stamp let­ter from the DHS with award dates and amount if no other proof of income is available.

Anyone with questions or who would like to make an appointment should call Rachel Coffey at (734) 241-2775, ext. 223.

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