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November 4, 1999

Heating Assistance Available To Low-Income Households

SPRINGFIELD -- Governor George H. Ryan today urged low-income families and individuals to apply for heating assistance through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) at locations throughout the state.

"Winter will soon be here, and there will be a tremendous demand for assistance," Ryan said. "I encourage anyone who thinks they may be eligible for state help with their heating bills to apply soon to LIHEAP."

The energy assistance program is geared to households that have incomes up to 125 percent of the federal poverty guidelines. A family of one can have a monthly income of no more than $858; a two person household no more than $1,152, and a family of four an income no greater than $1,740. Benefits are provided directly to the household's gas or electric utility or delivered fuel dealer for households that heat with fuel oil or propane.

Approximately $110 million is available in funding for LIHEAP this winter, with $42 million from the federal Low Income Energy Assistance Block Grant and $68 million from the state's Supplemental Low Income Energy Assistance Fund. The program is administered by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Community Affairs (DCCA).

"There has already been a strong response to funding made available for the disabled and senior citizens," said DCCA Director Pam McDonough. "Luckily, the combined efforts at the state and federal levels to support this program may result in us being able to help a record number of Illinoisans with their heating bills this winter."

The months of September and October were set aside for households with seniors or disabled members and those disconnected from their utilities. All other households may now make application to the appropriate local agency.

Benefits provided through LIHEAP include repairs of inoperable residential heating systems, payments to utilities or fuel dealers on behalf of eligible households to help reduce energy bills, and emergency assistance to help disconnected households regain energy services. In limited instances where heat is included in rent and rent is greater than 30 percent of a household's income, a small cash payment may be made directly to the household.

LIHEAP is operated throughout the state by a network of local agencies that work with utilities, determine eligibility and provide benefits to households. Anyone wishing to apply should contact the local agency in the county where they live. Additional assistance is available by calling the toll-free LIHEAP information line at 1-800-252-8643 (TDD 800-785-6055).


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