WDAY: The News Leader

Published December 08, 2010, 12:01 PM

Energy assistance money is in short supply in Minnesota

(WDAY TV) - It's becoming harder for people to pay their heating bills in Minnesota. Because of the state's 6.2 billion dollar deficit, money is in short supply.

Winnie Luebke: “It's kind of embarrassing, you have someone coming and it's cold in the house, they say, 'don't you have any heat?' no.”

Winnie, or Grandma Winnie as she's known, needed money to heat her house, but the community action program was out of federal funding. Its first disbursement was only given to people who applied for aid before October 25th.

Luebke: “The weather was so nice and I really wasn't paying attention to my fuel oil, then I ran out of fuel oil, and that storm hit.”

Winnie is on a fixed income and couldn't make her payment until the first of the month, so she needed help.

David Sayler: “These families normally receive fuel assistance through West Central, the Community Action Agency. Because fuel dealers were unwilling to deliver to them without a guarantee of payment, we did process the cases.”

Officials from the West Central Minnesota Community Action Agency are hopeful they will receive their second round of funding before Christmas. However if they don't, it could force Wilkin County Family Services to bare a burden it can't afford.

Sayler: “Not only Wilkin County, but other counties in the state are not set up to handle this number of requests and the amount money we would have to payout.”

Sayler was able to assist three of the five families that were forced to come to Family Services for Aid. And even for the lucky ones like Winnie, their humility was not lost.

Luebke: “It's kind of upsetting. I hate to come here, my pride, I hate to come here and ask for help.”

In January, Wilkin County Family Services can use 30-thousand-dollars from the Otto Bremmer foundation.