As winter approaches and we prepare to spend even more time indoors, utility bills are only going to get more expensive. Additionally, we know that the COVID-19 pandemic and economic downturn have made it difficult for many to keep up with home energy bills.
No Pennsylvanian should ever have to worry that their heat will be shut off during the coldest and darkest months of the year.
The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is a federally funded program administered by the Department of Human Services (DHS) that provides assistance for home heating bills so Pennsylvanians can stay warm and safe during the winter months. Assistance is available for both renters and homeowners. LIHEAP helps some of the commonwealth’s most vulnerable citizens — children, older Pennsylvanians, people with disabilities, and low-income families — make ends meet.
Anyone who may need help, or anyone who has loved ones or neighbors who could benefit from this program, is encouraged to apply for LIHEAP today.
How do I apply for LIHEAP?
Depending on preference, different options are available to apply for LIHEAP:
- Apply online: Pennsylvanians can apply at www.compass.state.pa.us.
- Paper applications: Call the LIHEAP Helpline at 1-866-857-7095 to request a paper application. Paper applications can also be downloaded from the DHS LIHEAP web page.
- County Assistance Office (CAO) services are available if clients cannot access online services or need assistance that cannot be accessed through the COMPASS website.
How long does LIHEAP season last?
The LIHEAP application period is now open and runs until May 6, 2022.
If I’m approved, how will I receive LIHEAP assistance?
LIHEAP is distributed directly to a household’s utility company or home heating fuel provider in the form of a grant. Individual or households do not have to repay assistance.
How do I know if I’m eligible?
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.
How many Pennsylvanians receive LIHEAP assistance?
During the 2020-21 LIHEAP season:
- 303,123: Households receiving LIHEAP cash assistance
- 116,639: Households receiving LIHEAP Crisis Grants
- $84,919,469: LIHEAP Cash benefits
- $50,763,178: LIHEAP Crisis Grant benefits
- $280: Average cash benefits per household
- $435: Average Crisis Grant benefit per household
2021-2022 SEASON CHANGES
Due to the availability of funds through the federal American Rescue Plan Act, DHS is able to provide increased LIHEAP benefits for this season.
- Season Extension: The 2021-2022 season will be extended one month. Instead of starting in November and ending in April, the season opened in October and closes in May.
- Minimum Cash Grant: Eligible households will see an increase from $200 to $500.
- Maximum Cash Grant: The maximum grant will increase from $1,000 to $1,500 for eligible households.
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 $800 to $1,200.
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 rent and utilities 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.