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Identity & Community

Winter Heating Assistance Program Application Period Opens Monday

Starting Monday November 4th, applications will be accepted for winter heating assistance through the federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP.) An estimated 1.5 million Pennsylvania households are eligible for LIHEAP grants.

“The program is in place to help low income individuals who are struggling to keep warm during the winter months,” said Carey Miller, spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare. “We offer cash and crisis grants to those individuals to help them maintain their home energy assistance throughout the winter to help keep them warm.”

Cash grants help residents pay their heating bills if they know they will have trouble paying them. To qualify an individual has to have at least one unpaid heating bill. Crisis grants are available to those whose heating is being or has been shut off, or who has had another emergency such as broken equipment or lack of fuel such as heating oil.

“The grants go directly to the utility companies to help offset the costs of their home heating fuel,” said Miller.

In 2012 there were 547,000 cash apps and 132,000 crisis grant apps, though not everybody who applies is eligible.

“Total distributed cash grants last year was $390,872 and the total distributed of the crisis was $124,259,” said Miller.

Individuals earning 150 percent of the federal poverty level are eligible for assistance through LIHEAP, which translates to $17,235 for one person up to $41,355 for a family of five. The elderly account for 33.4 percent of those who receive benefits, 28.9 percent are disabled and homes with children under 5 years old account for 18.5 percent of those receiving benefits.

To apply for LIHEAP assistance, residents can go to county assistance officers, or apply online.