PA Now Accepting Applications For Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
On October 18, Department of Human Services Acting Secretary Meg Snead joined Public Utility Commission Chair Gladys Brown Dutrieuille to announce the start of the annual Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) application process for the 2021-22 season.
LIHEAP is a federally funded program administered by DHS that 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.
The LIHEAP application period has been extended for this season and is open from October 18, 2021, to May 6, 2022.
Due to the availability of funds through the federal American Rescue Plan Act, DHS is able to provide increased LIHEAP benefits for this season.
This means that families will see an increase in the minimum LIHEAP cash grant from $200 to a minimum grant of $500, and an increase in the maximum cash grant from $1,000 to a maximum of $1,500.
Those who need the LIHEAP crisis grant – the benefit for people who meet the poverty limits and are in jeopardy of having their heating utility service terminated – will see the maximum crisis grant increase from $600 to a maximum of $1,200.
LIHEAP is distributed directly to a household’s utility company or home heating fuel provider in the form of a grant, so the individual or households do not have to repay assistance.
The income limit for the program is 150 percent of the Federal Poverty Limit. For a household of four, this would be $39,750 gross income 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, ERAP, and other public assistance programs online at www.compass.state.pa.us or by phone at 1-866-550-4355.
On-site County Assistance Office (CAO) services are available if clients cannot access online services or need assistance that cannot be accessed through the COMPASS website, the myCOMPASS PA mobile app, or by calling the Customer Service Centers at 215-560-7226 for Philadelphia clients or 1-877-395-8930 for clients in all other counties.
The Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) is also available in each of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties to help eligible tenants cover the cost of overdue or upcoming utility and rental payments.
Pennsylvanians who are responsible for paying rent or utilities on a residential property, and have one or more people within the household who has experienced financial hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic that puts them at risk of homelessness or a utility shutoff, could be eligible for up to 18 months of ERAP assistance.
More information is available at the Emergency Rental Assistance Program webpage.
Utility Customer Assistance
In addition to making use of LIHEAP assistance, the PUC encourages consumers to contact their utilities for more information about various utility-operated Customer Assistance Programs (CAPs) that may be available.
The PUC emphasized that direct conversations between customers and utilities are the best “first step” for any Pennsylvania household or business struggling with utility bills – whether those financial difficulties are related to the COVID pandemic, the ongoing state and national recovery, or other challenging circumstances.
Utilities understand the assistance programs available in their communities for income-qualified consumers – including utility-run Customer Assistance Programs, national programs like LIHEAP and the Emergency Rental Assistance Program, and various hardship fund programs operated by utilities and non-profit organizations.
Utilities also can help enroll consumers in assistance programs, guide them to other available resources and discuss new payment plan options to address overdue balances and help consumers move forward.
Visit the PUC’s Utility Assistance Programs webpage for more information.
Also visit the PUC’s Energy Efficiency, Conservation and Savings webpage for ways to save on energy use.