Energy assistance program begins Sept. 1

LIHEAP is available for all income-qualified households

Heating expenses and hot water can make finances tough for some households during the winter months. A Jasper County office of a partnership called RRACAP helps families get the help they need financially, without the beneficiary ever touching the money.

Funds are available to assist income-eligible households with natural gas, propane and electric bills and furnace assistance, said the Tri-County Opportunities Council, which services Bureau, La Salle, Lee, Marshall, Putnam, Carroll, Ogle, Stark and Whiteside counties.

The program will being Sept. 1 for all income-eligible households. Applications will be taken on a first-come, first-serve basis through May 31. There will be no priority groups this program year. Households in need are encouraged to apply.

Households must be at or below 200% of the federal poverty level to receive a benefit from the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. Beginning Sept. 1, there will be an option to accept a one-time payment to a utility provider. For median income and the number of people living in the household: the income guidelines are one-$2,265; two-$3,052; three-$3,838; four-$4,625.

Go to to know income limits for households with five members or more.

The LIHEAP provides one-time benefits to income eligible homeowners and renters to help with energy bills and for reconnection of energy service. Propane customers are encouraged to apply when the program opens in September to take advantage of lower propane prices. Propane prices typically increase during the winter months, so by applying early, propane customers will their LIHEAP benefit go further.

Applications will be taken at Princeton, Savanna, Streator, Ottawa, La Salle, Dixon, Lacon, Oregon, Rochelle, Wyoming and Rock Falls offices and applications can be taken by appointment, fax, email and mail.

To submit an application, submit all documentation required: proof of gross income from all household members for the prior 30-day period beginning with the date of application; proof of Social Security numbers or individual taxpayer identification number for all household members, individuals without them can still apply; a copy of current heat and electric bills issued within the last 30 days; a copy of rental agreement (if renting) showing utilities are included, the monthly rental amount and landlord contact; other documents may be needed based on household situations.

Water and sewer assistance is available this year in the Low Income Household Water Assistance Program. Apply for water and sewer assistance on the same application. Bring water bills to the LIHEAP appointment.

Call the Tri-County Opportunities Council at 1-800-323-5434 for outreach locations and schedules and for information on what documents are needed to apply and different ways to submit an application.