More money than ever before is available through the 2021 Home Energy Assistance Top-up Fund (HEAT) for low-income individuals and families in need of emergency home heating assistance. The fund was formerly known as the Good Neighbour Energy Fund.
Nova Scotia Power Maritime Link Inc. (NSPML) has donated $1.5 millon to the fund, significantly upping the ante on support to electricity customers who have been hardest hit by the financial challenge that the COVI-19 pandemic has presented.
“We know many Nova Scotians have difficulty making ends meet, especially in these unprecedented times,” Peter Gregg, the president and chief operating officer of Nova Scotia Power (NSP), said in a news release issued January 14. “Whatever the situation, everyone deserves a warm, comfortable place to call home, and the HEAT Fund is one of the ways we are working to help make that happen.”
NSP, along with the Province of Nova Scotia, through Service Nova Scotia and Internal Services, makes the fund available for those experiencing heat insecurity. Each household is eligible to receive up to $400.
Now in its 25th year, the fund receives $200,000 and $800,000 annually from NSP and the province respectively.
Additionally, more people will qualify for the assistance in 2021 with a change in the income thresholds to $29,000 for a one-person household, $47,703 for a two-to-four-person household and $67,937 for a household of five or more.
That’s up from 2020 income thresholds, which were $21,487, $39,926, and $56,861 respectively.
In 2020, more than 3,500 households received emergency home heating support from the fund. With $2.5 million in the fund this year, there is the potential to assist more than 6,000 households, according to the news release issued by The Salvation Army.
The Salvation Army administers the HEAT fund which runs each year starting in January.
Major Jamie Locke of The Salvation Army Maritime Division, reported that last year 280 households used the HEAT Fund in Zone 6, which includes Queens, Shelburne, Yarmouth, Digby and Annapolis counties. In Zone 5 — Lunenburg, Kings and Annapolis counties — 339 took advantage of the fund.
Locke expects this number to rise in 2021.
The divisional commander for the Salvation Army, Mayor Wade Budgell, noted in the release that the additional funding for the HEAT Fund comes at a critical time for Nova Scotians.
“We have more people asking for our help every day, and this generous support will make a life-changing impact for thousands of individuals and families,” he said.
Information about the HEAT Fund and the online application form can be found at: https://salvationarmy.ca/maritime/heat/.
There is also an opportunity for NSP customers to contribute directly to the HEAT Fund by signing up on the Nova Scotia Power website to donate money via their power bills.
Kevin McBain, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, LighthouseNOW Progress Bulletin