A state program designed to help low-income households with their energy bills has started accepting applications.
The Pennsylvania Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) provides grants especially in the winter months.
Donna Morgan, spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare, said the department is urging people to register early.
“First of all we’re encouraging them to do it online because it is a cost saving and more efficient way of doing things, and we want to make the process run as smoothly as possible. Last year we had some back log in the heat of the winter (or in the cold of the winter I should say), and we want to make sure the process runs smoothly and most efficiently for the clients we care for.”
Pennsylvania residents can sign up online at www.compass.state.pa.us, or through paper applications available at local county assistance offices. The eligibility guidelines for LIHEAP are the same as last year. A household of four people with an income below $34,575 would qualify, for example, though the program has different income requirements for homes of all sizes.
LIHEAP Income Ceilings
- $16,245 for a one person household
- $21,855 if two people live in the household;
- $27,465 if three people live in the household;
- $33,075 if four people live in the household;
- $38,685 if five people live in the household;
- $44,295 if six people live in the household;
- $49,905 if seven people live in the household;
- $55,515 if eight people live in the household; and
- $61,125 if more than eight people live in the household.
For larger households, add $5,610 for each additional person in the home.
Morgan says the department is committed to the program.
“I think when you think about core programs, it goes back to when you think about what the Welfare Department is designed to do. Take care of people who have children, take care of their medical needs, and also take care of that they don’t die of exposure in the winter. So we are committed to this program and committed to administering it.”
Last year, 33,688 Allegheny County residents received energy assistance grants totaling $6,960,461; 6,017 Beaver County residents received $1,352,725; and 12,835 Westmoreland County residents received $2,964,061 in benefits.
For this year’s LIHEAP season, which runs from November to March, there will be a total of about $139 million available for distribution.