Having Trouble Paying Your Energy Bill?

There are a variety of energy assistance resources available to low-income households. You can get help paying in emergent situations like a 24 hour disconnect notice or more long-term assistance like a monthly discount on your energy bill or cost-saving education.

Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP): The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is a federally funded program that provides energy assistance for eligible low-income households. There are several portions of the program ranging from one-time financial assistance for an energy bill, to free weatherization upgrades, to budget counseling. In 2020, funding for this program was expanded under the congressional CARES Act, which aims to assist those affected by COVID-19.

California Alternate Rates for Energy (CARE) Program: Save 20-35% every month on your electric or natural gas bill. If you are already enrolled in other public assistance programs, such as Medicaid, WIC, Food Stamps/SNAP, TANF, or SSI, you likely also qualify for the CARE program. To apply, contact your utility company.

Family Electric Rate Assistance (FERA) Program: If you are low income, but don’t qualify for CARE and your household has 3 or more people, you may be eligible for FERA. Those who qualify for FERA discounts receive an 18% discount on their electricity bill. This program is available to customers of Southern California Edison, San Diego Gas and Electric Company, and Pacific Gas and Electric Company. Contact your utility company for information.

Energy Savings Assistance (ESA) Program: Those who qualify for CARE also meet the income guidelines for ESA. Qualifying households can receive free weatherization services and amenities such as energy-efficient appliances, low-flow showerheads, insulation, door repairs, and more.

For more information, call 211 or visit the California Department of Community Services & Development website at www.csd.ca.gov/Pages/LIHEAPProgram.aspx.

Low Income Earners May Qualify for Extra Money on Your Tax Return.

The Earned Income Tax Credit is a tax break for low- to moderate-income families. In California, if you worked in 2020 and made under $30,000, you may be eligible for the California Earned Income Tax Credit (CalEITC). If you qualify for the CalEITC and have children under the age of 6, you may also be eligible for the Young Child Tax Credit, which would give you more money on your return.

To qualify, you must:
– Have taxable earned income
– Have a valid social security number or individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN) for you, your spouse, and any qualifying children
– Not use “married/RDP filing separate” if married
– Live in California for more than half the year

For full details about qualification requirements, the amounts you may be eligible for, and details on how to file, visit www.ftb.ca.gov/file.

Gifts of Love to Share for Valentine’s Day

What’s better than sharing some love to celebrate Valentine’s Day? Sharing that love in ways that don’t break the bank! Here are some of our ideas about how to express your affection from the heart instead of your wallet.

“In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love.” — Mother Theresa

Acts of Service – One of the five “love languages” that people use to express and receive love, Acts of Service are thoughtful gestures as physical actions. This can be as simple as running an errand or completing a household chore that your loved one typically handles. It is a way of easing their burdens and can make them feel more loved and cared for.

“Love is a two-way street constantly under construction.” — Carroll Bryant

Cards and Phone Calls – With the ongoing pandemic, many of us are still not able to see our loved ones as much as we want. Even if you can’t see someone in person, taking time out of your day to call or send a card lets them know you’re thinking about them and can make a big difference.

“Love builds bridges where there are none.” — R. H. Delaney

Show Yourself Some Love – Take some time to care for yourself. Maybe check out a book or movie you’ve been interested in for free from your local library and enjoy a night in. Dust off that hobby you’ve been neglecting. Take some extra care while cleaning to bring the greater peace and satisfaction of a tidy space. Whatever you do, remember that you deserve love too and caring for yourself can be an act of love.

Cities and Counties Provide Tremendous Services for Residents

Nowadays, almost every city and county offers a variety of valuable services and resources for individuals and families of all ages at little to no cost to local residents. From Meals on Wheels or exercise classes, to local libraries with computers for public use and movies available for checkout. Most jurisdictions also have parks, recreational facilities, or even classes for the entire community to enjoy.  

Visit your city and county websites for detailed information on programs and services available locally, including referrals for specialized services such as mental health care, affordable housing and much more.  We recommend checking your county’s official website first.

Orange County has a brochure outlining services, “At Your Service – A Guide to Agencies and Departments”.  Visit www.ocgov.com/about-county.

For Riverside County information visit www.rivco.org/about-county

For San Bernardino County information on services and to identify cities in the county visit: www.sbcounty.gov/main/pages/cities.aspx 

All Vaccinated Adults in California Can Now Get a COVID Booster Shot

Booster shots have been a hot topic in recent discussions about the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, but have been limited to higher risk groups in many jurisdictions. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends booster shots to any vaccinated adult 65 or older. The CDC also recommends boosters for people 18 and older who live or work in long-term or high-risk settings or have underlying health conditions.

As of November 11, 2021, California expanded COVID vaccine booster eligibility to include all fully vaccinated adults, ages 18 and up.

As with the initial vaccine, COVID booster shots are free, regardless of insurance status. The timing to determine your eligibility for a booster depends on the type of vaccine you originally received:

Pfizer: at least 6 months after 2nd dose

Moderna: at least 6 months after 2nd dose

Johnson & Johnson: at least 2 months after single dose

Visit MyTurn.ca.gov, call 833-422-4255, or contact your local drugstore or pharmacy directly to make an appointment.

How to Dispose of Household Hazardous Waste

Did you know it is illegal in California to simply throw some household items in the trash? Many common household items, like batteries, lightbulbs, and household cleaners, contain potentially hazardous materials or ingredients that pose a danger to the environment, and to you, if disposed of in a landfill. These items, known as Household Hazardous Waste (HHW), must be disposed of in a special way to prevent contamination of our air, water, or even food.

What is banned from the trash?

  • Lights, batteries, and electronics – this includes lightbulbs and lamps, batteries, and electronic devices like monitors, TVs, microwaves, and cell phones.
  • Mercury-Containing Items – these can include items you may not think of, like electrical switches and musical birthday cards, as well as common items like thermostats and thermometers.
  • Household and Landscape Chemicals – including flammables and poisons, pool chemicals, cleaners, and pesticides.Paints and solvents – such as latex and oil-based paints and solvents
  • Building materials – this includes treated wood and materials with asbestos, like older kinds of cement, roofing, flooring, and siding.
  • Automobile-Related – including antifreeze, batteries, motor oil, and tires.
  • Other – compressed gas cylinders, healthcare needles and sharps, paint and ballasts with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB), and any nonempty aerosol cans labeled with “TOXIC” or “FLAMMABLE”

*Note that this is not a comprehensive list. Visit calrecycle.ca.gov/HomeHazWaste/Info/ or check with your local jurisdiction to verify if your item needs to be specially disposed of.

Where should you dispose of your hazardous materials?

Orange County has four Household Hazardous Waste Collection Centers. Call 714-834-4000 or visit www.oclandfills.com/household-hazardous-waste.

Riverside County has four permanent Household Hazardous Waste Collection Centers and multiple additional locations that are temporary or specific to certain types of waste. Call 951-486-3200 or visit www.rcwaste.org/Waste-Guide.

San Bernardino County has fourteen permanent Household Hazardous Waste Collection Centers. Call 909-382-5401 or visit www.sbcfire.org/collectionfacilities.

Do you need household hazardous items like paint, cleaning liquids, or pesticides?

Orange, Riverside, and San Bernardino counties all offer Reuse programs where county residents can pick up unopened or partially used household hazardous items for FREE! There is no guarantee for item availability and locations and hours will vary by jurisdiction. Check with the they phone numbers and websites listed above to find your local Reuse location.

A Fresh Mindset for the New Year

Though we’re a little late, we want to wish you and yours the happiest New Year! May 2022 bring you comfort, peace, and prosperity!

It is a time honored tradition that people begin the new year with new goals. If you’re like us and didn’t get started right away on January 1st, that’s okay! You don’t need to wait for the next year to roll around to make a move toward your goals – today is always the best day to start improving.

“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” — C.S. Lewis

The last two years have been unusual and tiring in numerous ways and many of us could use a mental reset. Even if everything around you feels out of your control, one thing you can control is yourself and how you respond to the world around you. So, in honor of the New Year and new beginnings, we thought it would be good to take some time to reset our outlook and approach the new year with fresh feelings of purpose and possibility.

“What a wonderful thought it is that some of the best days of our lives haven’t even happened yet.” —Anne Frank

If you’re having trouble coming up with resolutions or ways to reboot your mindset, we found a few recommendations from Parade.com that will hopefully help you with both – goals to help you change yourself and your outlook for the better.

Give one compliment a day – it’s like a free form of gift giving. You can make someone else’s day a little better and maybe feel better afterwards yourself.

Do random acts of kindness – it can be something as smaller, like holding the door for the person behind you or letting that person over in traffic, or more substantial, like volunteering your time to help someone in the community. No matter the method you choose, it seems like we could all benefit from a little more kindness.

Clear out the clutter – studies have indicated that clutter can increase your stress levels, which then negatively impact your physical and mental health. Take some time to clean out stuff you don’t need, because it can make you feel so much better. Plus, fewer things to worry about keeping clean and organized!

Write down something you’re grateful for each night – big or small, taking time each day to be thankful can help shift your overall outlook towards the positive. Some also believe that daily gratitude can also help with depression and anxiety.

Whatever the goal, write it down – there have been some studies that indicate putting your goals in writing makes it more likely that you accomplish them. It helps you remember your starting point, reinforces the plan in your mind, and you can reference it later if you fall off but want to get back to it.

No matter how you approach the New Year, we wish you the best and hope that you find peace, prosperity, and success in your endeavors.

“Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let every new year find you a better man.” —Benjamin Franklin

Are you ready for inspection?

Have you seen a Notice of Planned Inspection flyer posted in your park office? If so, then the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) will be conducting an inspection at your mobile home park! Here is some quick information regarding what you can expect from the inspection, and what you can do to prepare:

Keep an eye out for the HCD inspector – The inspector will be wearing an HCD vest and identification badge. They will examine the common areas of the park, but will also inspect your individual lot. They may enter your lot, but they will not enter your home without your permission, and will only request permission if the outside of your home suggests potential safety hazards within.

Remove any obstacles for the inspection – The inspector will need easy access to examine the landing, stairs, and deck to your mobile home. If you have a shed, remove any large obstacles that may restrict access so the inspector can see that it is structurally sound. Keep all animals indoors for both their and the inspector’s safety.

Keep your lot clean – Remove any garbage or combustible debris from your lot (paper, boxes, scrap wood, etc.). This is a fire and safety hazard and can result in a violation that could otherwise be avoided.

 Make sure all doorways are accessible – No doors leading to the exterior of your mobile home should be padlocked or blocked by furniture, and all stairs and landings should be free of damage. Obstructing an entry/exit on the exterior of your mobile home is a safety hazard.

Perform a preliminary inspection of your own home – All awnings, carports, decks and porches should be adequately supported. Any damage to structural support needs to be addressed. The skirting of your unit must be without decay or deterioration.

Address any electrical hazards – Cables and conductors for electrical wiring outside of the unit must be weather proof. Power cords must not be damaged, and the unit must not have more than one power supply cord. Electrical appliances cannot be installed outside of the unit unless inside a weather proof structure with adequate wiring.

The inspection is done to ensure that both the park owner and the mobile home park residents are maintaining their properties at the minimum safety requirements of the state. For more detailed information regarding what you can expect from the inspection, visit www.hcd.ca.gov/mpm-booklets and download the Resident Information Booklet. A copy of the booklet will also be mailed to you by the HCD inspector 30 days prior to the inspection.

About the COVID-19 Delta Variant

The latest information about COVID-19 has been heavily focused on the Delta variant, which is now the predominant strain of the virus globally. Earlier this year, COVID cases in the United States were declining as more people got vaccinated. With the new dominance of the Delta variant, COVID cases are spiking nationwide and putting severe strain on hospitals. The amount of information surrounding the virus and how to protect yourself is constantly evolving and can be overwhelming. So here are some important points regarding this more dangerous Delta variant.

The Delta variant is more contagious – The Delta variant is significantly more contagious than earlier strains of the virus, about twice as much as previous variants, and causes more infections.

It seems to cause more severe symptoms – Though COVID symptoms are the same, the Delta variant appears to be causing worse symptoms at a faster rate. Studies also suggest that patients infected with the Delta variant are more likely to be hospitalized than with previous strains.

Unvaccinated people are at greatest risk – Because this strain is more contagious and volatile, those who have not been vaccinated are more likely to contract the virus, suffer more severe symptoms, and spread it to others over a longer period of time. Though there are rare cases of vaccinated people getting COVID infections, their symptoms are far less severe and they are contagious for less time.

The CDC recommends masks for EVERYONE in crowded settings and public indoor spaces – For areas with substantial or high transmission, which is currently the vast majority of the United States, the CDC recommends that everyone, including vaccinated people, utilize masks in crowded environments and indoor public settings. You can view Delta variant hot spots and transmission rates on the CDC website.

Vaccination is the best defense against COVID-19 – Even though there have been rare cases of vaccinated people being infected, their symptoms have been milder than for unvaccinated patients. Vaccines are still widely available and FREE for everyone age 12 or older, even without insurance.

Find out where to get vaccinated by calling 833-422-4255 or visiting myturn.ca.gov.

Learn more about COVID-19, vaccines, and the Delta variant at www.cdc.gov.

Fire Season Means Fire Safety

We’re nearing the end of the hot summer weather in California, but we are still in the midst of wildfire season. Given that the fires seem to start sooner, last longer and cause more damage each year, now is a great time for a reminder on some basic fire safety.

Smoke Alarms – Install smoke alarms if you don’t have them and check that those you do have are working. Make sure you have good batteries in the alarms and consider also getting carbon monoxide alarms in sleeping areas.

Gather dry brush and debris on your property – While it may just seem like an eyesore, dead, dried out leaves and brush around your home can be a fire risk. Clearing them out can make your space look nicer and reduce hazards.

Always be careful with flammables – There are so many easy ways to start an unintentional fire in your home. Unattended candles, hot plates, and even flammable materials, like a dishrag, too close to the stove. It is always good practice to carefully supervise any flame or heating elements when in use, and always be sure they are completely off or extinguished after use.