(ModernSurvival.org) – A variety of options are available to help struggling Americans with their energy bills. From local services, agencies, and non-profit organizations to government programs, there are several ways to apply for assistance. One such program is the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) which provides government-funded cash grants to low-income families.
Unfortunately, many issues can hinder applicants as they try to get this particular form of government assistance. In some cases, even qualified applicants are denied after they fail to complete the process correctly.
Additional Resources for LIHEAP Applicants:
If the first application is rejected, there are still options to help the applicant obtain the necessary information for the program. These include:
The LIHEAP FAQ Webpage
Applicants seeking additional information regarding the LIHEAP application process should reference the frequently asked questions page. A treasure trove of material from the program guidelines to application requirements is a simple click away here. Review the page for tips on what could have been done differently with the initial application.
The National Energy Assistance Referral (NEAR) project offers free assistance to LIHEAP applicants. NEAR assistants are available Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mountain Time. The following options are available to contact:
- Send an email to [email protected]
- Call them toll-free at 1-866-674-6327
- Additional contact information is available through the local LIHEAP office.
LIHEAP isn’t the only option for those who need assistance with energy costs. Here are a few other options to consider:
Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA)
The Department of Treasury offers Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) to qualifying low-income families. This program provides help with both rental fees and utility bills.
To qualify for ERA, one must meet the following criteria:
- Some form of agreement stating the applicant agrees to pay rent. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a signed lease; it can be a mobile home or apartment.
- A household member has lost income, qualifies for unemployment, suffers financial hardships, or owes large amounts of debt.
- The household income falls below 80% of the local median income.
- At least one household member is at risk of becoming homeless or having trouble locating a residence.
Weatherization Assistance Program
The U.S. Department of Energy offers a program that reduces energy costs for low-income households by improving their home’s energy efficiency. Individual states, Indian tribal governments, and U.S. overseas territories receive funding from the U.S. Department of Energy. These agencies then distribute the funds to community networks and organizations that provide weatherization services to eligible people.
To qualify for the Weatherization Assistance Program, one must meet the following requirements:
- Have a disabled family member in the home.
- Be 60 years of age or older.
- Have children within the home (depending on the state of residence)
Charity Groups and Social Services Agencies
In an emergency, there are several options available that may be able to help a struggling family. These include, but aren’t limited to:
- Salvation Army
- Catholic Charities
- Jewish Foundation of North America
- Urban League
- Lutheran Social Ministry
- Love Inc.
If you do not qualify for LIHEAP, don’t lose hope. There are multiple options out there that can still offer a helping hand. Still not sure what to do. Try dialing 2-1-1. An emergency operator will direct you to a local organization that can provide utility assistance.
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