The Department of Community Affairs recently announced that supplemental benefits are available through the federally-funded Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).
Eligible households do not need to reapply for the program to receive supplemental benefits. The benefits are available because LIHEAP funding for the year increased beyond the original projection provided by the federal government.
Nearly 158,000 households that heat their homes with gas will receive an added benefit of $100 while those that heat with electric will receive a $250 benefit. Approximately 28,000 families that heat with deliverable fuels, such as oil or propane, will receive a $175 supplemental benefit.
Also, about 51,000 households that received medically-required cooling assistance will receive a $100 supplemental benefit.
The DCA's Division of Housing and Community Resources administers the LIHEAP program, which is a federally-funded initiative that helps low-income residents with their heating and cooling bills, and makes provisions for emergency heating system services and emergency fuel assistance. To be eligible for LIHEAP benefits, a household must be responsible for home heating or cooling costs, either directly or included in the rent; and have gross income at or below 200% of the federal poverty level.
The LIHEAP application also serves as an application for the Universal Service Fund (USF) Program, which is run by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities. USF helps low-income households pay for their electric and natural gas costs. LIHEAP eligible households may also be eligible to receive USF assistance.
To be eligible for USF, a household gross income must be at or below 175% of the federal poverty level, and pay more than 3% of its annual income for electric, or more than 3% for natural gas. If a household has electric heat, it must spend more than 6% of its annual income on electricity to be eligible. USF applications are accepted throughout the year.
For more information on LIHEAP, or to find the nearest agency participating in the program, please log on to http://www.nj.gov/dca/divisions/dhcr/offices/energy.html