Cold fall air means winter is just around the corner, and with it, colder temperatures increase our reliance on natural gas to stay safe and warm in our homes.
However, each year many Pennsylvanians struggle financially with their heating bills during the winter months, and utility providers like Columbia Gas struggle to connect individuals with payment assistance programs. federal, state or local to help them pay their bills and maintain their public services. .
One of these programs is the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP, a federally funded program administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services. It was a great success. Millions of low-income households have benefited from LIHEAP over the years, which was established by the US Congress 40 years ago.
This season, Pennsylvania’s LIHEAP funding has increased by over 100% compared to last season. That means $ 328.5 million is available to help more than 328,000 income-eligible households across Pennsylvania struggling with winter heating bills this season.
Unfortunately, for one reason or another, many people eligible for LIHEAP do not apply for benefits and lack valuable support. With more money available this season, everyone who qualifies must apply so that no money goes unclaimed.
For families in difficulty, there has never been a better time to check their eligibility for help. Many households may be eligible without even realizing it, so it is important that they take the time to understand the benefits of the program and to apply for assistance.
People can apply online at www.compass.state.pa.us or request an application by calling the statewide LIHEAP hotline at 1-866-857-7095. LIHEAP runs until May 6, 2022 or while funds run out.
What does LIHEAP offer?
LIHEAP offers both cash grants and crisis grants to households eligible for income.
Cash grants range from $ 500 to $ 1,500, an increase of $ 300 and $ 500 respectively from last season’s minimum and maximum grant amounts, and are based on household size, income and location. type of fuel.
Crisis grants may be available if someone is in an emergency and is at risk of losing heat. A household may receive more than one Crisis Grant, as needed, during the season until the maximum benefit of $ 1,200 (an increase of $ 400 from last season’s maximum) is reached. .
In addition to LIHEAP, many utility companies offer flexible payment options, budget plans, and income-eligible financial support as additional safety nets during tough times.
Consumers should contact their utility providers to find out what programs they are eligible for, or they can visit company websites to research options. For some programs, income may not be the only condition for receiving funds. Many companies’ websites have online tools, such as eligibility calculators, to help clients determine the best programs to meet their specific needs.
Everyone knows someone who may need help paying their utility bills, whether it’s an elderly neighbor, friend or family member. No one should have to worry about staying safe and warm during the winter months, and utility providers like Columbia Gas can help customers navigate the various financial aid programs and services available to them. . We are here to help you.
Mark Kempic is the president and chief operating officer of Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania and Maryland.