TRENTON, NJ – In light of the current COVID-19 crisis and the expectant loss of income by many people in the state, the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA) is reminding low-income households that applications are being accepted for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) for residents across the state. The federally-funded program assists low-income households with their heating bills and provides emergency heating system services and emergency fuel assistance. Program funding is administered through the DCA Division of Housing and Community Resources.
“As we continue to navigate through these unprecedented times, we want to remind New Jerseyans that DCA remains open for business. Through the LIHEAP program, eligible families that are struggling due to a loss of income as a result of the pandemic, can receive assistance to pay down their energy bills,” said Lt. Governor Sheila Y. Oliver, DCA Commissioner. “The State of New Jersey is ready to assist as many households as possible. Anyone in need of assistance should contact their local application agency.”
To be eligible for LIHEAP assistance, households must be responsible for home heating costs, either directly or included in the rent, and have a gross income at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level. Persons who live in public housing and/or receive rental assistance are not eligible unless they are responsible for their own heating costs paid directly to the fuel supplier. The amount of the LIHEAP heating benefit is determined by income, household size, fuel type, and heating region.
Households that qualify for the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) – formerly food stamps – are automatically screened to determine eligibility for LIHEAP. SNAP applicants are encouraged to provide electric, gas, oil and other energy utility bills that could qualify them to receive LIHEAP assistance to help pay heating costs. SNAP recipients who qualify for LIHEAP may be eligible for an increase in SNAP benefits.
The average LIHEAP benefit for a household last heating season was approximately $380.
Local agencies are accepting inquiries and applications through email and also through secure drop boxes in front of their offices, to ensure social distancing. For more information and a list of agencies that accept LIHEAP applications, applicants can visit the DCA website at https://www.nj.gov/dca/divisions/dhcr/offices/energy.html or call toll free: 1-800-510-3102.
The LIHEAP application also serves as an application for the Universal Service Fund (USF) Program, which is state funded and administered by the DCA Division of Housing and Community Resources. USF helps low-income households pay for their electric and natural gas costs.
To be eligible for USF, a household must have a gross income at or below 185 percent of the federal poverty level and pay more than 3 percent of its annual income for electric or more than 3 percent of its annual income for natural gas. If a household has electric heat, it must spend more than 6 percent of its annual income on electricity to be eligible.
The chart below provides maximum monthly pre-tax income eligibility levels for both LIHEAP and USF.
MAXIMUM MONTHLY PRE-TAX INCOME ELIGIBILITY LEVELS
Fiscal Year 2020
Household Size LIHEAP Program USF Program
1 $2,082 $1,926
2 $2,819 $2,607
3 $3,555 $3,289
4 $4,292 $3,970
5 $5,029 $4,652
6 $5,765 $5,333
7 $6,502 $6,015
8 $7,239 $6,696
9 $7,975 $7,377
10 $8,528 $8,059
11 $8,706 $8,740
12 $8,883 $9,422
If more than 12, add: $177 for each person $682 for each person
To find out if you qualify for assistance for these and other DCA programs, you can complete our completely anonymous online screening tool called DCAid by visiting: www.nj.gov/dca/dcaid.
You can also dial 2-1-1 any day, any time to speak with a call specialist who can provide the locations and hours of local LIHEAP application agencies, explain how home energy assistance programs work, check on the status of a LIHEAP application once it has been submitted, and help find alternative resources if a person doesn't qualify for LIHEAP and/or USF benefits. NJ 2-1-1 is funded by the United Ways of New Jersey in partnership with the State of New Jersey.