Department of Human Services (DHS) Secretary Teresa Miller today joined Public Utility Commission (PUC) Chair Gladys Brown Dutrieuille and United Way of Pennsylvania President and Pennsylvania 211 Executive Director Kristen Rotz to announce the start of the annual Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) application process for the 2020-21 season.
LIHEAP provides assistance for home heating bills so low-income Pennsylvanians can stay warm and safe during the winter months. Assistance is available for renters and homeowners. LIHEAP applications open on November 2nd and end April 9th, 2021.
“We know that the pandemic and economic downturn have made it difficult for many to keep up with home energy bills. As winter approaches and we prepare to spend more time indoors, these bills may only get more expensive. I encourage everyone who may need assistance, or who has a loved one or neighbor that could benefit from this program to urge them to apply for LIHEAP,” said DHS Secretary Teresa Miller. “No one should feel like they have to choose whether they should heat their home because they are worried about making ends meet. DHS administers safety-net programs to help some of the commonwealth’s most vulnerable citizens get through times like these, and Pennsylvanians should know that LIHEAP is here for them if they need it.”
“LIHEAP is an important tool for helping Pennsylvania families stay warm and safe during the winter,” said PUC Chair Gladys Brown Dutrieuille. “This year, more than ever before, we encourage families to explore all the options available – including LIHEAP and PUC-required utility customer assistance programs. Working in combination, these essential programs help hundreds of thousands of households across the Commonwealth.”
“If you are falling behind on your utility bills, it is important to reach out for help early, don’t wait until you are in a crisis. You have options – PA 211 is one place you can turn. Simply dial 211, or text your zip code to 898-211 to speak with a resource navigator who will search for utility assistance that may be available in your area. 211 can also give you instructions about how to apply for LIHEAP,” said Kristen Rotz, President of the United Way of Pennsylvania and Executive Director of Pennsylvania 211.
During the 2019-2020 LIHEAP season, 312,140 households statewide received $88,692,268 million in LIHEAP cash benefits. These households received an average season benefit of $284.
The minimum cash benefit that can be received is $200 and the maximum is $1000, and the crisis maximum – the benefit for people who meet the poverty limits and are in jeopardy of having their heating utility service terminated – is being raised to $800, up from last year’s $600.
The income limit for the program is 150 percent of the Federal Poverty Limit. For a household of three, this would be $32,580 gross income per year and for a household of four would be $39,300 per year. Pennsylvanians do not need to know their own eligibility in order to apply for these programs. Those who applied and were denied previously but have experienced a change in circumstances can reapply.
Pennsylvanians can apply for LIHEAP and other public assistance programs online at www.compass.state.pa.us. Those who prefer to submit paper applications can print from the website or request an application by phone at 1-800-692-7462 and mail it to their local County Assistance Office (CAO) or place it in a CAO’s secure drop box, if available. Dropping applications off at a CAO using the drop box can help avoid an application delay due to postal service delays. While CAOs remain closed to the public, work processing applications, determining eligibility, and issuing benefits continues.
For helpful tips on keeping warm throughout the winter while saving money on utility costs, visit www.energysavers.gov.
For more information on LIHEAP, visit www.dhs.pa.gov.