LIHEAP: Fighting Poverty in New Jersey
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Local LIHEAP Administering Agency Contacts
In the News:
Governor Christie Announces Supplemental Resources to Assist Approximately 182,000 Seniors, Disabled and Medically Required Households with Summer Energy Bills
Monday, August 1, 2011
Emergency Relief Funds Will Be Issued as $100 Credit on Utility Accounts to Help Beat the Heat
Trenton, NJ – Governor Chris Christie today announced that approximately 135,000 seniors and disabled households throughout New Jersey will receive help with home cooling expenses this summer in addition to winter home heating assistance through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). Those New Jerseyans who need it most will soon receive an emergency $100 supplemental benefit to help cope with the recent heat wave. An additional 47,000 households that received medically-required cooling assistance will also receive a $100 supplemental benefit to address the hot summer temperatures and higher electric utility bills. The benefits will begin distribution in mid-August.
“With this summer’s temperatures peaking around 100 degrees, many New Jerseyans are struggling with higher utility bills to stay cool and beat the heat,” said Governor Christie. “That’s why I am pleased that my Administration is able to expand our support services to provide these emergency benefits that will ease the strain on our seniors and disabled citizens to help pay their cooling bills this summer.”
Eligible households do not need to reapply for the program to receive supplemental benefits. These funds will be issued as credits to utility accounts or issued by check, if a credit cannot be processed. The benefits are available because additional LIHEAP funding was provided by the Federal Government after the initiation of the LIHEAP season.
“The combination of the record-setting heat and humidity make for a dangerous situation for our elderly and disabled populations, who are most at risk during summer heat waves. These emergency funds are just one of the ways the LIHEAP program provides invaluable help to thousands of New Jersey’s most vulnerable low-income households,” said New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Lori Grifa.
Recently the Department of Community Affairs also issued $35,728,500 in Supplemental Benefits to 143,000 households in the current LIHEAP assistance program year. Most of these funds went as credit directly to the household’s utility account in order to provide some relief to last season’s heating bills, or this season’s air conditioning needs.
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 a gross income at or below 200% of the federal poverty level.
The LIHEAP supplemental assistance announced today is part of Governor Christie’s broader commitment to protect seniors and the disabled, including direct property tax relief, pharmaceutical assistance programs and home and community based services. The Governor’s Fiscal Year 2012 Budget increases funding for the Senior Freeze property tax relief program by $90 million, funds the Pharmaceutical Assistance to the Aged and Disabled (PAAD) and Senior Gold programs for approximately 160,000 low-income seniors without increases in co-pays or changes in eligibility for life-saving medications, expands home care support services by $47.6 million and increases outreach efforts to provide access to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)/Food Stamps.
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New Jersey Utilities
The programs and services listed below are provided by the following utilities: Atlantic City Electric, Citizens Energy, Elizabethtown Gas, Jersey Central Power & Light, New Jersey Natural Gas, Public Service Electric and Gas, Rockland Electric, and South Jersey gas.
Lifeline Assistance Program
Funded from the New Jersey general fund, Lifeline provides a credit on electric or natural gas bills of $225 per year to disabled and senior homeowners and tenants. Beneficiaries of Medical Assistance to the Aged, Medical Assistance Only, or New Jersey Care, are sent Lifeline applications automatically every August. Supplemental Security Income recipients receive Lifeline automatically. Eligibility: must meet income eligibility guidelines and be 65 years or older or at least 18 years of age and receiving Social Security Disability benefits. Call 1-800-792-9745 for more information.
Universal Service Fund
In June 2004, New Jersey’s Board of Public Utilities (BPU) approved funding for the state’s 2004-2005 Universal Service Fund (USF) low-income energy assistance program, which began in October 2003. The USF will fund a fixed credit percentage of income payment plan under which participants will be required to pay no more than six percent of their annual income toward electric and gas bills. New Jersey electric and gas customers whose household income is equal to or less than 175 percent of the federal poverty level are eligible for the program. Call 1-866-240-1347 or visit www.state.nj.us/dca/dcr/ for more information.
Temporary Relief for Utility Expenses (TRUE)
A one-time TRUE Grant assistance, administered by the Affordable Housing Alliance, is intended for low- to middle-income New Jersey residents who are struggling to pay their electric and natural gas bills. The maximum grant is $750 for electric and $750 for gas service, depending on the balance owed. Funds will be allocated on a first come, first serve basis. Eligibility requirements include: have past due electric or gas account; and utility service not disconnected, have paid at least four payments of $25 in the last six months. Three payments must be made 30 days before application; and not be eligible or received LIHEAP or USF in the last year; and meet income requirements. For more information or application, please call toll-free 1-855-465-8783 or (732) 389-2204 or visit: www.pseg.com/home/customer_service/bill/help/true_grant.jsp.
New Jersey Comfort Partners
A residential low-income program provided by Atlantic City Electric through the Societal Benefits Charge created under New Jerseys restructuring legislation. Energy efficiency measures include: efficient lighting products, hot water conservation measures, refrigerator replacement, programmable thermostats, insulation upgrades, air sealing, duct sealing and repair, and heating/cooling equipment maintenance, repair and/or replacement. Energy education and counseling and arrearage forgiveness for participants who agree to payment plans are included. Eligibility: Income at or below 175 percent of federal poverty guidelines or customers who receive Lifeline, LIHEAP, TANF, SSI, and PAAD, General Welfare Assistance, and Section 8 Housing Assistance. Cost: $15 million yearly for about 6,100 households. Call 1-800-280-0254 or visit
www.atlanticcityelectric.com/ace/your_home/comfort_partners_yh.cfm for more information.