Illinois families who need help paying their utility bills have been offered an extra boost by Gov. JB Pritzker’s administration.
Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity this month announced expanded assistance programs for low-income Illinois families to help pay for natural gas, propane and electricity bills.
Applications now also can include income-eligible households that already are disconnected or facing imminent disconnection from utilities, according to a news release from Pritzker’s office.
“With temperatures dropping and the winter season just weeks away, my administration is ensuring that every family has the assistance they need to keep the lights and the heat on,” Pritzker said in the release. “With DCEO’s Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, we are providing utility bill support to thousands of income-eligible families, and I urge those who are disconnected or facing imminent disconnection to apply. Here in Illinois, we look out for our neighbors, and that’s exactly what LIHEAP is all about.”
Interested families can apply by visiting www.helpillinoisfamilies.com or their local agency (find a list online). Families also can call 1-833-711-0374 for assistance in 30 languages.
“Essential utilities like electricity and gas should not be an obstacle when trying to live, work and raise a family. The expansion of the LIHEAP program is a welcome opportunity for our most vulnerable to receive access to much-needed utility assistance,” Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton said in a news release. “We will continue to find ways to support our Illinois families.”
All families who meet the qualifications and provide proper documentation will receive support until funding is exhausted, according to the release.
Families who earn up to 200% of the federal poverty level; have a household with a senior, a child or children younger than 6 and/or a person with a disability; along with households that provide proper documentation of disconnection or imminent disconnection from a utility now are eligible to receive support through the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program.
The new application period runs through Aug. 15, 2024, or until funds are exhausted, according to the release.
The energy bill assistance program offered through the Help Illinois Families Program in 2024 will provide $237 million to eligible families for energy bill assistance.
A tiered application system was reinstated this year to ensure that families with the most need can apply first. The schedule runs as follows:
- Oct. 2 – Income-eligible households who fall under the following categories: households with people 60 and older, households with a documented long-term disability, households with children younger than age 6.
- Nov. 1 – Income-eligible households who fall under the following categories: October priority-period households, households that are disconnected, households facing imminent threat of disconnection.
- Dec. 1 – All income-eligible households.
The utility assistance program provides one-time payments directly to energy service providers on behalf of recipients. Although the amount of support varies based on the needs of individual families, in 2022, more than 311,000 Illinois households received utility assistance, with an average of more than $1,000 per household, according to the release.