The New Jersey Department of Community Affairs has launched a new season of the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) for residents across the state. Eligible New Jersey households are encouraged to apply.
“LIHEAP provides a crucial safety net for our neediest citizens and helps them focus on other necessities such as food, medication, and housing,” said DCA Commissioner Richard E. Constable, III. “The DCA and its partnering community-based organizations are prepared to help as many households as possible again this year.”
LIHEAP is a federally-funded program that assists low-income households with their heating bills, and provides emergency heating system services and emergency fuel assistance. Program funding is administered through the DCA’s Division of Housing and Community Resources. Income eligible residents can apply through select community-based organizations. To find the nearest organization accepting applications, people may visit www.nj.gov/dca/divisions/dhcr/offices/localagencies.html or call 1-800-510-3102 (LIHEAP).
LIHEAP program applications may be submitted now until April 30, 2014. The average LIHEAP benefit for a household is approximately $400 per season and it generally takes 4-6 weeks to process a properly completed application. This past season, the program was able to assist more than 290,000 households.
To be eligible for LIHEAP benefits, households must be responsible for home heating or cooling costs, either directly or included in the rent; and have a gross income at or below 200% of the federal poverty level. Persons who live in public housing and/or receive rental assistance are not eligible unless they pay for their own heating/cooling costs directly to the fuel supplier. The amount of the LIHEAP heating benefit is determined by income, household size, fuel type, and heating region.
The LIHEAP application also serves as an application for the Universal Service Fund (USF) Program, which is state funded and administered by the Division of Housing and Community Resources. USF helps low-income households pay for their electric and natural gas costs. LIHEAP eligible households may also be eligible to receive USF assistance. Applicants that apply will only need to apply once for both programs. To be eligible, a household gross income must be at or below 175 percent of the Federal Poverty Level, and pay more than 3 percent of its annual income for electric, or more than 3 percent for natural gas. If a household has electric heat, it must spend more than 6 percent of its annual income on electricity to be eligible.
For more information on LIHEAP and USF, people may log on to www.energyassistance.nj.gov or call 1-800-510-3102 (LIHEAP).