(HealthyExaminer.com) – Do you need assistance with your energy bills? There are government, non-profit organizations, and local social service agencies with programs to help. One such program is known as the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), a cash grant from the government that aids low-income families in paying their energy bills. However, not every low-income family will be able to access this program. Even if you don’t qualify for LIHEAP, there are other government assistance programs in place that could come to your aid.
Source Assistance for the LIHEAP Energy Assistance Application Process
Before you decide that you simply don’t qualify for the LIHEAP, you may want to request help with your application. Some eligible individuals are rejected simply because they did not follow the required application process. To find out if you qualify, you can utilize the following resources:
National Energy Assistance Referral (NEAR) Project
The NEAR Project is a free service that provides information on your LIHEAP application. They are available to assist you Monday to Friday between 7 a.m. – 5 p.m. (Mountain Time). The following contact options are available:
- Call toll-free at 1-866-674-6327
- Send an email requesting assistance to [email protected]
- Contact your state or tribal LIHEAP office
Use LIHEAP FAQ Section
You can also check the LIHEAP FAQ section for answers to questions related to your application and eligibility. This can be an easy way to find out if you meet the eligibility requirements and to make sure you’re correctly following the application process. Failure to correctly complete the application could result in your denial for benefits – even if you quality.
Pursue Other Energy Assistance Programs
If you’re not eligible for the LIHEAP program, there are other energy assistance programs available that you may be able to access. There are several programs through the government at federal, state, and local levels, including local social service agencies and non-profit organizations. Here are just a few of the available options you can research:
Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA)
Low-income families can seek utility bill assistance through the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) program. However, this assistance program requires landlord assistance. Landlords must assist in the application process and be willing to make payments on your behalf. If you need help with utility bills that aren’t included in your monthly rental, this could be a good option.
ERA eligibility is dependent on the following requirements:
- You need a signed lease or proof of an agreement stating that you are paying rent. Apartments and mobile homes are included as a possible rental agreement.
- You need to prove that a member of your household has either lost income, owes a large debt, has experienced financial hardship, or qualifies for unemployment benefits.
- You’ll need to show that your annual household income is at least 80% below the average median income in your area.
- Another way to qualify is to prove that at least one household member is at risk of either becoming homeless or experiencing other difficulties with finding housing.
Department of Energy Weatherization Assistance Program
The U.S. Department of Energy Weatherization Assistance Program exists to help reduce energy costs for low-income families by helping to increase household energy efficiency. While the Department of Energy provides the program’s funding, the program itself is managed by individual states, U.S. territories, and Indian tribal governments. These governments then provide the support necessary to fund community agencies and networks that help connect eligible low-income families to weatherization services meant to lower energy costs.
Eligibility criteria for the Weatherization Assistance program are as follows:
- You must be at least 60 years old.
- You must have a family member with a disability.
- Some states or residences require that you have children.
Participants who receive assistance from Aid to Families with Dependent Children or Supplemental Security Income are automatically eligible for assistance through the Weatherization Assistance program.
Social Services Agencies Assistance or Charity Aids
In an emergency or crisis, there are several energy assistance organizations available. A few of these organizations include the following:
- Salvation Army
- Love Inc.
- Jewish Foundation of North America
- Urban League
- Lutheran Social Ministry
- Catholic Charities
If you don’t qualify for LIHEAP, there are many other programs and services available. You’ll want to research each program and associated eligibility requirements. Review each application process carefully. You can also call 2-1-1 to be directed to a local organization that offers utility assistance.
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