Home Energy Assistance Programs for Single Moms
Apart from paying rent and food costs, single moms have to pay for home energy costs associated with heating their homes during winter and cooling them during summer time. The three most common fuels used to do so include natural gas, electricity and fuel oil. The average heating costs of low income households ranges from $700 to $1,000 per year. Also, the average cooling costs of such households ranges from $300 to $500 per month depending on location. States that are consistently cold throughout the year include Maine, Wyoming, Montana and North Dakota. Therefore, families living in these states will naturally have higher home heating costs per year. Alternatively, families living in Texas, Florida, Louisiana and Hawaii will have the highest cooling costs as those are 4 of the hottest states in the country based on average temperatures. In this article, we will overview the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) that assists low income families pay for their home energy needs using federal funds that are allocated for this purpose.
What is Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)?
LIHEAP helps low income families living in one household pay for their home energy costs each month using federal funds. For the 2010 year, a total of $5.1 billion was allocated for this program and all low income households from 48 states, District of Columbia are eligible for the program. Eligibility is based on household income and as a general rule of thumb, the eligible household’s income must NOT exceed 150% of the federal poverty level or 60% of their State’s median income. For instance, if the median annual income in Florida for families was $40,000, then eligible families can have up to 60% of $40,000 equaling $24,000 to qualify for LIHEAP. LIHEAP assists qualifying families with 3 crucial benefits:
- Energy bill payment assistance
- Emergency crisis help
- Energy-related home repairs
Purpose of LIHEAP
The purpose of LIHEAP is to eliminate safety risks that low income families may face if they are not able to pay their energy bills. For instance, some people may use fireplaces to keep warm while others will use improperly ventilated heaters, barbecue grills, or overloaded electrical circuits to supply energy. These methods are unsafe and have huge risks of catching fire, carbon monoxide poisoning or other illnesses.
How to Apply for LIHEAP?
Applications for LIHEAP can be made by calling their toll-free number 1-866-674-6327 monday to friday between 7am to 5pm and speaking to a representative from National Energy Assistance Referral (NEAR) project. You can ask them to provide you with an application form and they will answer any questions you have regarding your eligibility for LIHEAP. You can also contact a LIHEAP office in your state using http://www.acf.hhs.gov/ocs/programs/liheap
Supporting Documents you will Need
To make an application for LIHEAP, you may be asked to present one or more of the following proofs:
- Proof of US citizenship or permanent residence
- Proof of present address e.g. rent receipt, telephone bill, etc
- Payroll stub showing your gross income
- Copies of any shut-down notice from your energy provider
- Proof of total members living in your household, etc.