Energy Assistance Programs – Get Help with Utilities

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Energy assistance programs.  The LIHEAP assistance program is a federally funded energy program that helps pay utility bills for disadvantaged households.  Get help with gas, water, or electric bills.  Call the Numbers in this Post or go to Local Church Assistance

This program offers low-income grants that give families a check to help with utility bills.  If you live in a warm state, they help with cooling costs.

Home heating grants help disadvantaged residents pay for Winter heating bills.  According to Welfare Statistics and Demographics, 21% of the US population receives assistance from the government assistance.  The Federal government spends $158,200,000,000 annually on poverty welfare programs.   

During the winter, many low-income families will be eligible for help paying for heating.   August is the time to sign up for this assistance program!   (NOTE:  The time to apply for this free government money is the Summer).

LIHEAP Energy Assistance

If you qualify for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), you may receive a check for up to $350 to help with utility bills. The program began in 1981 as an assistance benefit to the poorest families with home cooling bills.  Congress later shifted the purpose of the funds to include warm-weather states as well. 

Free Home Heating Oil Assistance Programs

Home heating assistance grants are funded with a yearly subsidy to the Dept of Health and Human Services.  On October 15, 2014, ACF awarded approximately $3.05 billion for energy assistance grants.  

This funding is distributed among all states, territories, and tribal governments.  This is done through the US Department of Health and Human Services.  The President receives additional funds each year to use for heating assistance at his discretion. 

Each state that wishes to receive this grant must apply for a block grant.  The Home Weatherization program helps families make energy-saving home repairs in conjunction with heating assistance.

How Home Heating Assistance Grants Help Families

There is nothing worse than coming home to a cold house.  People in the U.S. go without heat every Winter. Often families without electricity use kerosene heaters that cause deadly fires.  There are sad stories of older adults freezing to death in their homes.  You may qualify for help with electric bills or eviction prevention. 

If you receive help from a government assistance program, talk to your caseworker about receiving heating assistance.  Find out how to get help with rent payments.  Find out if you qualify for money for home heating bills through the Home Energy Assistance Program. 

Are you Eligible for Energy Assistance?

Your income should not be more than 150 percent of your state’s poverty level to be eligible. Each state has different criteria for determining your eligibility. You also may receive help if your family receives any aid from the government. 

Call or contact your local Department of Social Services or The National Energy Assistance Referral Project at 866-674-6327 for questions about eligibility.  You are eligible for your gross family income at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines.  

Or if you are receiving help from a government program such as  Food Stamps/SNAP, Receiving Medicaid On Section 8 or Federal Public Housing, Emergency Rent Assistance, Receiving TANF- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, the National School Lunch Program, Supplemental Security Income SSI.

Am I Financially Eligible for Energy Assistance? 

It would be wonderful if everyone who needed help could get it, but it doesn’t work that way.  These poverty programs assist the poorest citizens.   I know people who have worked hard and need help but can not get it because they make 50 or $100 too much.

This doesn’t seem fair, but this is how the system works to ensure the most vulnerable receive aid. You also may qualify but cannot get help if funding is unavailable.  Each state receives a block grant to distribute to agencies that help disadvantaged families.  Resources are not infinite, and help will not be available when they run out.

Programs that Help With Energy Assistance

If you are having trouble paying utility bills, some organizations will help.

1. Catholic Charities 

Catholic Charities is a non-profit, faith-based organization that works with the government to distribute funds to those needing financial help.  Depending on the amount you own, this organization will may at least a partial payment on your behalf.

Church Assistance Programs

2.  Department of Social Services

The Department of Social Services provides one-time emergency assistance with utilities and rent.  You do not have to presently be receiving aid, but you must qualify financially.  Any payments are paid directly to the utility company.

3. HUD

The US Department of Housing and Urban Development not only helps with housing.  They also help low-income households with utilities, rent, home purchases, security deposits, etc.

4. Utility Companies

Contact your utility company to ask them about their financial assistance programs.  Many utility companies will have programs that help or can refer you to another agency.

Low-income Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)

If you want to apply for assistance, contact the US Department of Social Services or a community action agency.  Funding is limited and helps low-income families with children and the elderly get preferential assistance when funding is limited.  You can also find out how to get Christmas toys.  Or find out how to get financial assistance for single moms.

The government funds each state to distribute this grant to those who apply and qualify for the grant. The Home Energy Assistance checks are sent the first week of February.  Money is given on a first-come-first-served basis, so it is important to apply from August to September before it runs out.

The program assists with the following:  

  • Power Bill Payment
  • Energy crisis assistance (prevent utility disconnection)
  • Home Weatherization Grants and energy-saving home repairs

Where to Get Help with Energy Assistance

National Energy Assistance Referral Project:   866-674-6327

Website

LIHEAP Energy Assistance Program
Aerospace Building, 5th Floor West
370 L’Enfant Promenade, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20447
Phone: (202) 401-9351
Fax Number: (202) 401-5661

In Conclusion

When you apply for help with energy assistance, heating bills, and utilities, apply early.  Each program has its requirements, so find out what they are.  Bring proof of income, your ID, and proof of address.  You can get help when applying depending on available funds.  You may have to go to two or more programs to pay your bill depending on the amount you owe.  Do not get discouraged. It is a process.  Always as for referrals to other organizations for other needs, you may have. 

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