Overview of LIHEAP (Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program)

The low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, LIHEAP, is a federal program that helps low-income residents pay their energy costs. It provides one-time financial assistance to qualified residents, giving them money to pay their heating and cooling bills. The program is available in all states, territories and federally recognized American Indian tribes. While the program is maintained by the federal government, the state, territory and tribal governments are responsible for distributing the funds throughout their jurisdictions. So while the general rules are the same throughout the country, the program may vary, depending on the state or reservation.

How LIHEAP is Funded

The federal government provides most of the funding for the fund. It splits the funding between all 50 states, all US territories and federally recognized American Indiana tribes. Because of their special status within the federal government, US territories and tribal governments have the right to add supplemental funding from their own budgets, but they are not required to do so.

What LIHEAP Offers

The LIHEAP program provides one-time funding for every household. That means that once residents apply, they cannot apply again for another year. First, the programs provide the funds necessary to pay heating and cooling bills. In some jurisdictions, it also provides funds for weatherization of homes. Some jurisdictions also offer LIHEAP funds to bring utilities up to date, or make them more energy-efficient.

Who Qualifies for LIHEAP

Under federal guidelines, the program is open to legal permanent residents. They must have an annual income that does not exceed 150 percent of federal poverty levels, or 60 percent of their state median poverty level. States have the right to expand those requirements. For example, in Massachusetts, the applicants' annual income can be as high as 200 percent of the federal poverty level.

Applying for LIHEAP

In most jurisdictions, the program is run on a first-come, first-serve basis. Some jurisdictions give priority to applicants with higher-than-average energy costs, households where at least one of the residents is elderly or disabled, households with young children, or households that are behind on their utility payments or have been disconnected. Some jurisdictions also limit funding to applicants who live in subsidized, or public housing. The size of the funds provided vary depending on the applicants' energy needs. Once the funds are exhausted, the program is closed. When applying for LIHEAP funds, residents will need to be able to present copies of the following documents:

  • Recent utility bills--this includes all utilities not just heating or cooling bills.
  • Proof of earnings--this can include recent pay stubs, miscellaneous income earning statements or any other official documents that can verify their income.
  • Utility termination notice--if the applicant received one.
  • Proof of current address--this can include a rent receipt, lease or a property tax bill.
  • Proof of household size--this includes birth certificates, social security cards, school records or any other documents that can prove that all of the members of the household really exist.
  • Proof of residence--documents that verify that the applicants are citizens or legal residents of their jurisdiction. This can include drivers licenses, passports, green cards, etc.
blog comments powered by Disqus