State Officials Announce the Start of Home Energy Assistance Program Before Winter

State Officials Announce the Start of Home Energy Assistance Program Before Winter

ILLINOIS (IRN) — Enrollment for the state’s Winter Home Energy Assistance Program is starting soon.

The program is open to any household in the state that meets certain income requirements.

David Wortman is the deputy director in charge of the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. He said that the program uses state and federal funding to assist households that have trouble paying winter heating bills. Wortman said the program was designed to make sure people don’t have their electricity and heat shut off in the winter.

The program is administered statewide through the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.

Wortman said he was working to get the word out to people who may have trouble paying their bills that the program is available to help.

Last year, the HEAP program provided around $160 million in funding for about 260,000 households in Illinois. The average household got a little over $600 a year for energy assistance.

The program is available until it runs out of funding. However, Wortman said the program didn’t distribute all the funds it had available last year. He said he expected the program to have enough funding this year to meet the demand.

Eligibility for the program is dependent on household income and the number of people living in the household.

The application process starts on Oct. 1 for seniors and people with disabilities. Households that have been disconnected, or families with children younger than 5 can begin applying for assistance starting Nov. 1. Households that do not meet the requirements for priority enrollment can apply beginning Dec. 1.

To apply, residents must provide the following documentation:

• Proof of gross income from all household members for the 30-day income period beginning with the date of the application.

• A copy of their current heat and electric bills issued within the last 30 days (if they pay for their energy directly).

• A copy of their rental agreement (if they are renting) showing that utilities are included, the monthly rental amount and landlord contact information.

• Proof of Social Security numbers for all household members.

• Proof that their household received TANF or other benefits, such as Medical Eligibility or SNAP, if receiving assistance from the Illinois Department of Human Services.

“A single-person household can qualify with a monthly income of up to $1,561; a two-person household up to $2,114; a family of three can earn up to $2,666; and a family of four can earn up to $3,219,” according to a news release. “Benefits are paid directly to energy vendors on behalf of eligible households. The exception is households whose heating costs are included in their rent.”

Information about the requirements and program are available at www.liheapIllinois.com or by calling the hotline at 1 877 411-WARM (9276).

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