Feeling the cold

Shivering your way toward the end of the year? You’re not alone. The Star Tribune reports increasing numbers of MInnesotans appyling for heating assistance, up eight percent statewide over 2008 and 19.5 percent over 2009. Increases in the metro area are even higher:

• 12 percent in Anoka County, to 4,509;

• 11 percent in Ramsey and Washington counties, to 15,300;

• 18 percent in suburban Hennepin County, to 10,361;

• 11.5 percent in Scott, Carver and Dakota counties, to 5,973;

• 33.6 percent in Minneapolis, to 11,692.

The main reason? Unemployment, with reduced hours and pay also playing a part. Ramsey-Anoka Community Action Program reports that the number of program participants relying on unemployment insurance was 438 in 20007-2008, 1,225 last year, and already at 880 during this heating season. Program eligibility is limited to people whose income is 50 percent of the state’s median income.

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