MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – As another blast of arctic air is forecasted to descend on Minnesota this weekend, state officials are reminding residents that assistance is available for households that are having trouble paying their heating bills.

The Department of Commerce sent out a statement Thursday, reminding Minnesotans that help is available for low-income families, people with disabilities, veterans and seniors from the state’s Energy Assistance Program.

“Heating your home is a necessity in this cold weather, and we do not want any Minnesotan’s health or safety put at risk,” Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman said in a statement. He added that Minnesotans shouldn’t have to choose between buying food or medicine and paying to stay warm.

In October, the state program received more than $100 million in federal money, which is now being used in grants to enrolled households. The money goes right from the program to the heating companies and fuel vendors on behalf of those enrolled.

Last year, the Minnesota program helped nearly 139,000 households, with an average of $500 going to each home.

The Commerce Department also said that funding can be used to help homeowners repair or replace malfunctioning heating systems.

Who Can Apply?

The program helps homeowners and renters who earn less than 50 percent of the state’s median income ($46,056 for a family of four) to obtain grant money to pay their heating bills.

Funding is limited to a first-come, first-serve basis, the Commerce Department said. Applications are accepted until May 31.

To apply, households must go through a service provider in their area. To find a local service provider, call 800-657-3710 or click here.

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