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Households in Northwest NM Shivering Through Winter as Funds Dry Up

January 14, 2008

Cuba, NM - The winter has been brutally cold in northern and central New Mexico, and the winter weather is far from over. For many households on the Navajo Reservation, one of the most impoverished parts of the Land of Enchantment, high energy prices make the situation critical, especially as financial help dwindles.

Jeanette Linville, with Nacimiento Medical Foundation in Cuba, says she's temporarily out of funds for energy assistance. She already has had to turn away one woman living on a $300-a-month pension who was nearly out of firewood.

"The last month has been absolutely, extremely cold. I feel for my clients out on the reservation."

It's hard for people living on the Navajo Reservation to receive assistance for propane or firewood because they aren't eligible for help through the county, Linville explains. Energy funds from the tribe are not always readily available at all chapter houses, either. A third potential source of aid is through the State of New Mexico.

"People on the reservation should be receiving, in some form, LIHEAP funds--that's the Low Income Home Energy Program-- through the state. I don't know why these funds are not available for them."

Linville says her organization and others are coordinating with a number of government agencies to try to alleviate the funding bottleneck. She hopes her foundation will receive more funds for energy assistance soon.

Eric Mack/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - NM