PA Launches LIHEAP Crisis Program To Ease Utility Costs May 18
On May 14, Department of Human Services Secretary Teresa Miller announced a Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) Recovery Crisis Program to help Pennsylvanians during the COVID-19 public health crisis.
LIHEAP Recovery Crisis program will open on May 18, 2020, and run through August 31, 2020, or until all budgeted funding is expended.
DHS will work with utility companies and deliverable fuel vendors to help Pennsylvanians at risk of losing access to electric, natural gas, or deliverable fuels such as oil, pay utility bills, and maintain access to home energy services.
LIHEAP provides assistance for home energy bills, helping ensure continuity of utility and other energy services for low-income Pennsylvanians. Assistance is available for both renters and homeowners.
The LIHEAP Recovery Crisis Program will offer a crisis benefit and a supplemental payment for households that previously received a crisis payment made directly to utility companies or fuel providers to help offset costs for home utilities.
LIHEAP Recovery Crisis benefits may be available if a household:
— Has their main or secondary energy source completely shut-off;
— Is notified that their utility service will be shut off in the next 60 days;
— Has broken energy equipment or leaking lines that must be fixed or replace; or,
— Is in danger of being without fuel in 15 days or less.
— Owes funds to a utility provider that would constitute a service termination if not for the Public Utility Commission’s moratorium on terminations.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Stimulus (CARES) Act provided $900 million in additional LIHEAP funds to states.
Pennsylvania received $34.9 million in LIHEAP funds through CARES. DHS will use these funds and funds remaining from the 2019-20 LIHEAP season to fund the LIHEAP Recovery Crisis Program.
LIHEAP Recovery Crisis program will open on May 18, 2020, and run through August 31, 2020, or until all budgeted funding is expended. The LIHEAP Recovery Crisis maximum benefit will be $800 for this period.
Eligibility guidelines will be the same as those used during the 2019-20 LIHEAP season, and DHS will permit a file transfer agreement with utility providers to allow a utility to submit a LIHEAP Recovery Crisis application on behalf of a consenting household, provided the household has already received LIHEAP Cash to the utility during the regular season.
Utility terminations are prohibited for the duration of the Governor’s disaster declaration, but past due balances can be submitted as proof of Recovery Crisis eligibility if the utility company confirms that the balance would result in a termination if the moratorium was not in place.
DHS will also automatically issue a $100 supplemental payment to approximately 100,000 households that received LIHEAP Crisis funds during the 2019-20 season.
Any household that has not reached the maximum benefit in the 2019-20 season can apply for additional assistance up to the $800 maximum limit.
More information about LIHEAP and household income eligibility is available at the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) webpage.
Additional Details For LIHEAP Vendors From DHS
Here are some additional details about the Crisis Grant Program from the Department of Human Services–
— $100 supplements to qualified 2019/20 LIHEAP Crisis recipients. Supplements:
— Will be issued as an Extraordinary Cash grant and may be applied to an outstanding fuel bill from a delivery/pick up received by the household since 10/1/19,
— Are issued by an automated system batch to the last vendor who received a Crisis grant for the household. Manual issuances will not occur; however, households may ask for credits from the supplement to be forwarded to another heating provider,
–Eligible customers will display on Voucher 46, available to view, print, download from PROMISe on Monday, May 18, 2020,
— Will have a Treasury Pay Date of May 27th.
— A special LIHEAP Recovery Crisis Program beginning May 18, 2020 and operating until August 31, 2020 (or sooner if designated funding have been depleted).
Eligibility for this new program will be determined based on household income and family size and also having an energy Crisis as defined below. Families who may have been over the income limit during the regular LIHEAP season may qualify for this new program because of a loss or reduction in income caused by the COVID-19 Pandemic.
The LIHEAP Recovery Crisis Program is designed to mitigate an economic hardship to households who meet the 150 percent of the federal poverty income guidelines (the month prior to application). LIHEAP Recovery Crisis Program funds are available to:
— NEW, low-income households who did not receive a 2019/20 season LIHEAP grant (up to $800), and
— LIHEAP recipients from the 2019/20 season (raising the 19/20 Crisis season limit from $600 to $800)
— A Crisis is determined if the household:
— Has a termination notice or past due utility bill needed for heat that would typically result in termination, or
— Is within 15 days of being without a deliverable fuel. NOTE: An outstanding fuel bill from a delivery or pick up of fuel since 10/1/19 may also be considered, if the vendor will not make a new delivery until this balance is paid.
— Additional information about the LIHEAP Recovery Crisis Program:
— The $100 supplement will count towards a household’s $800 limit as will any previous Crisis grants received during the 19/20 season,
— Households who received LIHEAP during the 19/20 Season don’t need to submit a new application unless there have been changes to who is living in their household or if they moved. Otherwise, they just need to contact their County Assistance Office and express a need for LIHEAP Crisis.
— Households who did NOT receive LIHEAP during the 19/20 Season must apply for the LIHEAP Recovery Crisis Program by applying on the DHS COMPASS website starting Monday 5/18 or by completing a special 2-page user-friendly LIHEAP application, available next week on the DHS website. THIS APPLICATION MUST NOT BE GIVEN TO CUSTOMERS UNTIL MONDAY 5/18. A list with mailing addresses is also available. The application must be mailed to the address noted based on the customer’s county of residence.
— After evaluating income eligibility for the LIHEAP Recovery Crisis Program, CAOs will determine whether the household has an outstanding energy bill or need for fill up,
— If eligible, the CAO will contact the participating LIHEAP Vendor to confirm the amount available to the household, and its intended purpose,
— Condition 5 of the 2019 Vendor Agreement which is currently valid will be applied, requiring utilities who accept a LIHEAP Recovery Crisis Program grant to maintain service for no less than 30 days after the resolution of the Crisis, which may not begin until the extended moratorium ends.
— When a Crisis need is determined, the CAO will initiate a Crisis Authorization #,
— IMPORTANT: LIHEAP Vendors must submit a claim in PROMISe (data entry + documentation) in order to receive payment for funds they were pledged by the CAO from this program.
Please contact Ted Harris– firstname.lastname@example.org— if you have questions.