Port: Maybe North Dakotans and Minnesotans turn down heating assistance because they think self-sufficiency is a good thing

Jordan Miller monitors insulation being sprayed into the attic of Marvel Von Hagen's home in Kindred, N.D., on Wednesday, March 13. David Samson / Forum News Service
Jordan Miller monitors insulation being sprayed into the attic of Marvel Von Hagen's home in Kindred, N.D., on Wednesday, March 13. David Samson / Forum News Service

“Most North Dakotans, Minnesotans who qualify for heating assistance don’t seek it,” reads a headline over a recent article by my colleague April Baumgarten.

“Of the 55,358 households eligible for heating assistance in North Dakota, only 22 percent (12,331 households) received it in 2017, according to the most recent analysis by the National Energy and Utility Affordability Coalition (NEUAC),” she writes. “In Minnesota, 393,788 households qualify for LIHEAP, and only 32 percent (126,149 households) received such assistance in 2017, according to NEUAC.”

Why would people who qualify for a public assistance program not avail themselves of it? The income qualifications for the program are pretty low.

Pride is one explanation offered in the article. This is a conservative part of the world. Public assistance, like it or not, has something of a stigma attached.

Not knowing the assistance exists is another.

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