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July 27, 2006

Gov. Blagojevich announces start of Summer Cooling Program
Grant applications available statewide on Monday

CHICAGO- As Illinois prepares for the heat of August, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich announced today that up to $9 million in cooling grants will be made available this Monday, July 31, 2006, to help protect the most vulnerable populations of Illinois including seniors, the disabled, and families with small children, from the dangerous weather conditions by assisting with household energy bills.

“Heat like we have been experiencing can be very hazardous and even life threatening – especially for children and the elderly. We want to be sure that the people who are at risk will be safe and cool in their homes this summer,” said Governor Blagojevich. “The cooling grants we’re making available Monday will give help to families that are struggling to pay their electric utility bills, and those whose electrical service has been disconnected.”

Governor Blagojevich directed the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) to provide $8 million in energy grants through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) to Illinois’ most vulnerable populations. Through the LIHEAP summer program, electricity bills payments will be made on behalf of seniors, the disabled, families with very young children, and people with medical conditions that would be aggravated by extreme heat. Earlier this summer, ComEd announced that it would give the state of Illinois $1 million for the LIHEAP program. Last summer, HFS distributed almost $10 million to assist more than 55,000 households.

“I am strongly encouraging anyone who feels they are eligible for the LIHEAP program to go out and apply for assistance. We want to encourage the families to apply so they can be safe and healthy during the summer heat,” said Barry Maram, Director of HFS. “Applications for grants are available today across the state. These grants can help a number of families get through this hot summer.”

LIHEAP is a state- and federally-funded energy assistance program that assists households with incomes of up to 150 percent of the federal poverty level. A single-person household can qualify with a monthly income of up to $1,225, a two-person household up to $1,650, and a family of four can earn up to $2,500. Benefits will be paid directly to the household’s electric utility.

The energy grant applications will be processed through a network of 35 local administering agencies around the state. These agencies will accept applications on a first-come, first-served basis from eligible households July 31 through August 18, or until funding for the summer program is exhausted.

To help all Illinoisans stay healthy, safe and cool this summer, the Governor launched the statewide, comprehensive Keep Cool Illinois campaign and website. The Keep Cool Illinois campaign is multi-agency effort to inform Illinois residents, especially the elderly, families with small children and persons with disabilities, how to prevent heat-related health problems, reduce their utility bills and participate in summer activities safely. Households interested in applying for LIHEAP grants can call 1-877-411-9276 or visit www.keepcool.illinois.gov.


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