Nearly 7,500 families received heating assistance benefits in Androscoggin and Oxford counties last winter, according to figures provided by Community Concepts. The service agency operates the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program in the two counties.

Another 2,100 families were helped through the program in Franklin County, said Judy Frost, LIHEAP director for the Western Maine Community Action Program.

Mary Ellen Therriault, Community Concepts’ spokeswoman, said 4,214 families in Androscoggin County took part in the program last winter. Another 3,210 received benefits in Oxford County.

Therriault said new income guidelines have been published for the program for the coming winter. Income limits range from $15,827 annually for a single person to $26,639 for a family of three, to $53,669 for a family of eight.

LIHEAP funds may be used to help offset costs for wood, electric, gas or oil heat. In some instances, people who rent can be eligible for benefits even if the rental fee includes heat.

Therriault and Frost encourage people to apply for the program. To do so, people should contact a Community Concepts offices in Auburn, South Paris or Rumford.

The telephone numbers are: Auburn, 795-4065; South Paris, 743-7716; Rumford, 364-3721.

In Franklin County, people should call 645-3764 or 800-645-9636.

Therriault and Frost also noted that emergency assistance may be available to people who have exhausted LIHEAP benefits and find themselves without a source of heat or electricity.

– Doug Fletcher

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