Utility Assistance for Low-Income Renters, Homeowners Now Available in PA
HARRISBURG, Pa. (ErieNewsNow) - If you’re worried you won't be able to afford to keep your home warm this winter, there are resources available. The annual Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is now accepting applications for the 2022-23 season, which opened yesterday and runs until April 28, 2023.
State officials say the assistance is available to help low-income renters and homeowners make ends meet, while keeping their homes and families warm this winter.
“A warm home is not just about keeping us comfortable in the winter, but also about health and safety,” said Inez Titus, the Office of Income Maintenance Deputy Secretary for the PA Department of Human Services. “Nobody should ever have to worry that their heat will be shut off during the coldest and darkest months of the year,” she added.
LIHEAP is a federally funded program administered by the Department of Human Services (DHS), which distributes grants directly to a household's utility company. After a surplus of American Rescue Plan funds for last year's LIHEAP, this season's benefits will be reduced.
“This season’s benefits will return to more traditional amounts,” said Titus, adding that the grants will range in size from $300 to $1,000. Eligibility requirements vary depending on household size.
“For an individual that has a gross income of $20,385 a year, and for a family of four that has a gross income of $41,625 a year,” said Titus.
But as funding for the program returns to more traditional levels, energy costs are doing the exact opposite.
“Additionally, we know that recent economic uncertainty and rising energy costs have made it more difficult for people to keep up,” said Titus.
Officials say there are several resources available and recommend calling your utility company to explore additional options as soon as possible.
“Direct conversations between customers and utilities are the best first step for any household or business struggling with utility bills. Be sure to call all of your utilities: electric, natural gas, water, wastewater and telecommunications because each may have different programs and resources available,” said Stephen DeFrank, Vice Chair of the PA Public Utility Commission (PUC).
Now that it's November, officials with PUC say it's time to get enrolled before the cold.
“We all have the same message and the same goal. We want households, struggling households, to enroll in these programs now before winter gets here,” said Kathryn Zerfuss, Commissioner of the PA Public Utility Commission.
You can find LIHEAP eligibility requirements, and application details here. You can also download the application and fill it out on paper before sending it to your local county assistance office.