Assistance For Low-Income Shore Residents Again Offered

BERLIN – The Shore Up program is once again preparing to assist lower income homes on the Eastern Shore with their heating bills this winter.

Shore Up is a federally funded program that offers financial aid for a variety of issues, including energy assistance.

Residents of Worcester, Wicomico, and Somerset counties with low household incomes could qualify to have Shore Up pay for some of their heating costs. The standard formula used by Shore Up to determine level of need starts at a yearly income of $18,952 for a household of one. For every additional household member, the formula allows up to another $6,545 per year before the household no longer qualifies.

However, the income formula is only a basic guideline. Shore Up concentrates on a wide range of qualifications.

“We look to see if applicants are behind on bills,” said Alicia Robinson, planning coordinator for Shore Up. “Or if they’ve paid this month’s bills but know they won’t be able to pay next month’s.”

Shore Up has existed since 1965 and has been providing energy assistance for approximately 30 years. Robinson states that it is a very open and flexible program.

“We vary to the needs of customers,” she said.

Robinson went on to say that, while the funding was split between the three counties it tended to wind up in the same core demographic groups no matter where it went.

“Mainly, the disabled, elderly or unemployed are the ones applying for and receiving energy assistance,” she said.

Worcester County generally accounts for about a quarter of Shore Up’s financial assistance, at 24.6 percent last year with Somerset receiving around 17 percent and Wicomico getting the lion’s share with 58.1 percent.

So far this year, approximately 6,000 applications have already gone into Shore Up, 1,370 or 22.8 percent from Worcester County.

But Robinson estimates that Shore Up will likely receive close to 10,000 applications over the season, and that the 25 or so percent seen by Worcester County would likely hold true this year as well.

For those seeking to qualify for energy assistance through Shore Up, an application can be requested by calling 410-749-1142, ext. 373 or 378, Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.