The New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA) has announced applications are being accepted for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) for residents across the state. The federally funded program assists low-income households with their heating bills and provides emergency heating system services and emergency fuel assistance. Program funding is administered through the DCA Division of Housing and Community Resources.
“We are encouraging residents who need help heating their home this season to apply for LIHEAP benefits,” said Lt. Governor Sheila Y. Oliver, DCA Commissioner. “No one should have to choose between keeping a home warm and paying for other necessities such as food, housing, and medication. The State of New Jersey is ready to assist as many households as possible.”
The LIHEAP application period began October 1, 2019 and will end July 31, 2020.
To be eligible for LIHEAP assistance, households must be responsible for home heating costs, either directly or included in the rent, and have a gross income at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level. Persons who live in public housing and/or receive rental assistance are not eligible unless they are responsible for their own heating costs paid directly to the fuel supplier. The amount of the LIHEAP heating benefit is determined by income, household size, fuel type, and heating region.
Households that qualify for the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP)—formerly food stamps—are automatically screened to determine eligibility for LIHEAP. SNAP applicants are encouraged to bring electric, gas, oil and other energy utility bills that could qualify them to receive LIHEAP assistance to help pay heating costs. SNAP recipients who qualify for LIHEAP may be eligible for an increase in SNAP benefits.
The average LIHEAP benefit for a household last heating season was approximately $380.
The LIHEAP application also serves as an application for the Universal Service Fund (USF) Program, which is state funded and administered by the DCA Division of Housing and Community Resources. USF helps low-income households pay for their electric and natural gas costs.
To be eligible for USF, a household must have a gross income at or below 185 percent of the federal poverty level and pay more than three percent of its annual income for electric or more than 3 percent of its annual income for natural gas. If a household has electric heat, it must spend more than six percent of its annual income on electricity to be eligible.
To find out if you qualify for assistance for these and other DCA programs, you can complete our completely anonymous online screening tool called DCAid by visiting nj.gov/dca/dcaid.
You can also dial 2-1-1 any day, any time to speak with a call specialist who can provide the locations and hours of local LIHEAP application agencies and help find alternative resources if a person doesn’t qualify for LIHEAP and/or USF benefits. For a list of agencies that accept LIHEAP applications and more information, people can also visit the DCA website at nj.gov/dca/divisions/dhcr/offices/energy.html or call toll free: 1-800-510-3102.