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Genesee County residents faced some frigid temperatures this week and it’s not going to get easier heading in December.

Heating costs expected to rise by up to 13 percent this winter, making it difficult to ignore the need for heat. Help in the form of the federal low-income heat energy assistance program opens Monday, so families and seniors don’t have to choose between necessary prescriptions and a warm home.

Genesee County processes 1,500 HEAP cases per year and the Department of Social Services has already started processing about a thousand applications through early outreach initiatives.

“Effective the start date of HEAP (Monday) that money will be available if they need to have a benefit called in because they have a shutoff or they’re low on product they can definitely do that and get that help immediately,” Joann Strzelecki, HEAP program director, said.

Apply through Social Services or Office for the Aging (hours are 8:30 to 5 at both locations. Call 344-2587 for SS and 343-1611 for the Office for the Aging.)

Eligible households can receive up to $650 for energy costs.

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