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Grants available to help low-income families pay for utilities

Applications may be obtained through the Southwest Minnesota Opportunity Council

Stock image of money.
Stock image of money. (Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash)

WORTHINGTON — The Southwest Minnesota Opportunity Council, which serves residents of Nobles, Murray, Pipestone and Rock counties, once again has grants available to assist low-income families through its Energy Assistance program.

The grants are issued as a credit, and may be applied to heat and electric utility bills, according to Jase Pater, Community Development staff member with SMOC.

“Something new this year, if you have a past-due water bill, residents in some of our communities can also get water assistance,” Pater said. Cities accepting water assistance grant dollars include Adrian, Bigelow, Brewster, Luverne, Pipestone, Round Lake and Worthington.

SMOC received additional funding for this grant cycle, which means applicants have the potential to receive a larger credit than in years past. The average grant awarded thus far this season is $1,033.

The grants are income-based, and also take into consideration household size. As an example, a household of four qualifies for a grant if their gross household income is $67,765 or less, Pater shared.

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“(People) can either come to our office or go to our website (smoc.us) and request an application,” he said. “Once they complete that, we will need additional documents — proof of income, utility bills and things like that.”

The application process opened in October, and will continue through May 31. Thus far, SMOC has approved grants for 336 households in Nobles County, 197 in Pipestone County, 189 in Murray County and 137 in Rock County.

“We’re about where we were last year in terms of applicants,” Pater said.

In addition to offering grants for utility bills, SMOC’s Energy Assistance program is also available to assist low-income households with furnace repairs.

“But you must be on the Energy Assistance program,” Pater said. “You have to contact SMOC first, even before contacting someone to look at the furnace.”

In Nobles County, SMOC’s office is located at 1106 Third Ave., Worthington. Pater can be reached for additional information at 376-4195.

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