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Extra help coming for low-income propane users

Posted by: Pam Louwagie Updated: January 28, 2014 - 2:45 PM

Low-income residents burned by the high cost of heating their homes with propane are getting some extra relief.

The Salvation Army is adding $100,000 to its HeatShare program to help people in dire need, officials announced in a news release Tuesday. The money, coming from the Salvation Army’s reserve funds, will be distributed to various centers throughout Minnesota and in Fargo and Grand Forks, N.D.

A propane shortage has meant skyrocketing prices, going from $1.55 a gallon last fall to just under $5 last week. 

“The facts are heating bills are going from $200 a month to $900; It would strain even a middle class family’s budget,” said Lt. Colonel Robert Thompson, Salvation Army Divisional Commander of Minnesota and North Dakota.

The HeatShare program is funded through donations from utility customers and utility companies and targets seniors, people with disabilities and people in need due to crisis situations. It helped 4,000 Minnesota households last year at a cost of $1.5 million, but still turned away 40,000 requests due to lack of funding.

Salvation Army officials said they are especially concerned about seniors on fixed incomes this extra-cold winter. “They are often the population that is the last to ask for help,” Thompson said in the release.

Overall, requests for heating aide have increased this year, threatening to drain the program’s reserves, officials said. Tax deductible donations to the program can be made at HeatShare.org , by calling 1-800-SAL-ARMY, or by mailing checks with “HeatShare” in the memo line to local Salvation Army offices .

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