HARRISBURG, Pa., Jan. 5 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Governor Edward G. Rendell today announced significant changes to Pennsylvania's Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program -- better known as LIHEAP -- that will help keep low-income families warm this winter.
The federally-funded LIHEAP helps income-eligible households pay for heat during the winter months and is administered by the Department of Public Welfare.
"As a result of smart policy decisions and efficient management of LIHEAP resources, we are able to increase cash grant amounts by $100 and extend the program through April 2," said Governor Rendell. "These steps will help to ensure Pennsylvania families can stay safe and warm during the cold winter months.
"These changes will bring needed relief for the many families who continue to struggle to make ends meet," added Governor Rendell. "Should the federal government release additional contingency funds as it has done in previous years, Pennsylvania would be positioned to increase grant amounts to vulnerable households -- those over 60, with a disability or with children aged five and under.
"We estimate that by extending the LIHEAP closing date from March 15 to April 2, an additional 80,000 households will receive help paying for their heat," the Governor added.
This year, all LIHEAP applications are run through a new computer system which includes more eligibility checks. As a result, the opportunity for fraud or abuse of the system has been significantly reduced.
DPW expects to assist approximately 600,000 families with cash grants during the 2009-2010 program year. As a result of the Governor's announcement, cash grants for the current season are expected to average $326.
DPW expects to provide LIHEAP crisis grants to 126,000 households this season. Crisis grants are offered to resolve heating emergencies, such as furnace failures or unexpected fuel shortages. In addition to proof of income and household size, applicants must provide a recent bill or a statement from their fuel dealer verifying their customer status and the type of fuel that they use.
Applications are available at county assistance offices, local utility companies and community service agencies, such as Area Agencies on Aging or community action agencies. Applications for LIHEAP cash grants are available online at www.compass.state.pa.us.
Residents of the counties listed below are encouraged to contact the agencies that operate the crisis component in their areas:
- Allegheny - Allegheny County Department of Human Services, (800) 851-3838;
- Carbon - Carbon County Action Committee, (610) 377-6400;
- Centre - Central PA Community Action Agency, (814) 765-1551 or Millheim Family Service Center, (814) 349-5850 or (800) 822-2610;
- Lackawanna - Scranton-Lackawanna Human Development Agency, (570) 963-6836;
- Lancaster - Community Action Program of Lancaster County, (800) 732-0018;
- Luzerne - Commission on Economic Opportunity of Luzerne County, (800) 822-0359
- Wyoming - Commission on Economic Opportunity of Wyoming Co., (570) 836-4090
To ensure they have adequate resources to heat their homes the entire winter, LIHEAP consumers are urged to keep their thermostats at 65 degrees -- unless they have young children or older adults living in the home. Visit www.turnsealsave.org to learn about available assistance programs, energy conservation and home weatherization tips.
Note to Editors: Household sizes and income limits for LIHEAP's 2009-10 season are listed below.
1 -- $16,245
2 -- $21,855
3 -- $27,465
4 -- $33,075
5 -- $38,685
6 -- $44,295
7 -- $49,905
8 -- $55,515
(For each additional person add $5,610).
Stacey Witalec, DPW; 717-787-4592
Gary Tuma, Governor's Office; 717-783-1116
SOURCE Pennsylvania Office of the Governor