Harrisburg, PA – Department of Human Services (DHS) Acting Secretary Meg Snead today joined Public Utility Commission (PUC) 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.
“Nobody should ever have to worry that their heat will be shut off during the coldest and darkest months of the year. As winter approaches and we prepare to spend even more time indoors, these bills are only going to get more expensive,” said Acting Secretary Snead. “LIHEAP helps some of the commonwealth’s most vulnerable citizens – children, older Pennsylvanians, people with disabilities, and low-income families – make ends meet and keep their home safe through the winter. I encourage anyone who may need help, or anyone who has loved ones or neighbors who could benefit from this program, to apply for LIHEAP today.”
“Working together, LIHEAP and various PUC-required utility assistance programs help hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvania households stay connected, safe and warm,” said PUC Chair Gladys Brown Dutrieuille. “We strongly encourage families to apply for LIHEAP and #CallUtilitiesNow to explore all the available options.”
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.
During the 2020-21 LIHEAP season, 303,123 households statewide received $84,919,469 million in LIHEAP Cash benefits, and these households received an average season benefit of $280. 116,639 households statewide received $50,763,178 million in LIHEAP Crisis benefits, and these households received an average payment of $435.
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 www.dhs.pa.gov/erap.
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.
For helpful tips on keeping warm throughout the winter while saving money on utility costs, visit www.energysavers.gov.