November 23, 2010 |

Help with home heating bills is now available

"Pennsylvania's Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, also known as LIHEAP, is now accepting applications from individuals and families who need help paying their heat bills this winter," State Sen. Jay Costa said. "It's important that people apply for LIHEAP funding as soon as possible because funding is limited."

LIHEAP provides home heating energy grants and crisis grants through the Department of Public Welfare, in order to help low income families pay their heating bills. Eligibility is based on household size, type of fuel, and income. Both homeowners and renters are eligible for the program, regardless of the method used to heat their residences. 

Applications and help with filling out the required forms are now available at Sen. Costa's district office in Carrick, 2306 Brownsville Rd, 412-884-8308.

State Rep. Harry Readshaw said his office at 1917 Brownsville Road in Pittsburgh has application forms and can help fill them out and submit them. The telephone number for the office is 412-881-4208.

"Last winter, more than 600,000 Pennsylvania families kept their homes warm last winter thanks to help from LIHEAP," Rep. Readshaw said. "I emphasize that LIHEAP is not welfare; you don't have to be on public assistance to receive LIHEAP and you don't have to miss a payment on a heating bill. LIHEAP is a one-shot deal that assists working families during this challenging time of the year to ensure that their homes are warm enough to protect their health through the cold of winter."

Eligibility for this federally funded program has recently been expanded to Pennsylvanians earning up to $35,280 for a family of four (an increase from 150 percent to approximately 160 percent of the federal poverty level). Under the new guidelines, nearly 533,376 Pennsylvanians will be eligible to receive assistance through LIHEAP.

In addition, grants have been increased as well. The minimum cash grant has been increased to $300 with a maximum of $1,000 annually. Crisis grants, for those in danger of being without heat due to broken equipment, lack of fuel or termination of service, have a minimum of $25 with a maximum benefit amount of $400. A supplemental payment of $100 will also be issued to vulnerable households that are home to an elderly or disabled resident or child under 5 years old.

 To apply for LIHEAP, you will need to provide: The names, dates of birth, and social security numbers of all household members; Proof of household income; and, A copy of a recent heating bill.

 LIHEAP applications are also available online at www.compass.state.pa.us.

 Additional applications and brochures can be downloaded at http://www.dpw. state.pa.us/servicesprograms/liheap/ or requested via telephone by calling 1-866-857-7095.

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