Heating assistance program
Colder weather is here and with it the need for reliable, affordable heat, but there are some in Central Connecticut who may be unable to pay their heating bills this winter.
That is where the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) comes in. Funded by the federal government and distributed at the state level by various agencies, LIHEAP was put into place to help low-income families and individuals get financial assistance with heating and fuel for the colder months of the year. This is especially important for vulnerable populations such as children under 6 years old and the elderly, the latter of whom are on a fixed income.
With more than $70 million in funds from LIHEAP being dispersed through the Connecticut Energy Assistance Program (CEAP), applications for fuel and heating assistance are currently being sent to the state’s various Community Action Agencies (CAAs) by people in need of assistance this year.
“Our agencies have been taking applications for the past few months,” said Kelley Hall, the Development, Communications and Grant Manager for CAFCA.
Two such agencies are the Human Resource Agency (HRA) for New Britain and the Bristol Community Organization (BCO) for Bristol, both of which are still in the process of receiving and approving applications for LIHEAP. The applications for heating and fuel assistance in the winter months of 2015-2016 exceeded 100,000 for the state of Connecticut. For the cities of New Britain and Bristol, the total amount was 7,277. Of those applications submitted, the number of people in New Britain and Bristol eligible for assistance during the 2015 winter months was 5,549.
As for how much assistance people can receive from LIHEAP, multiple factors are weighed for determining a person’s or a family’s eligibility such as household size and whether members of the household are deemed vulnerable due to the guidelines laid out by LIHEAP and CEAP.
“Once a household applies and is determined eligible for the program, the level of benefits is determined,” said Hall.
“The exact level of basic benefits is determined by your household’s income, the number of members, and whether there is a ‘vulnerable’ household member. Households with lower income levels are eligible for higher benefits,” said Hall.
Applicants for LIHEAP must submit information with their application including pay stubs, Social Security numbers and dates of birth for each member of the household. People applying for LIHEAP that heat their homes with gas or electricity must also submit their most recent utility bill. This requirement does not impact those who heat their homes by other means such as wood pellets or kerosene; as LIHEAP funds dispersed to eligible applicants may be used to pay for any source of heating the applicants choose to use.
More information on CEAP is available on www.cafca.org. Anyone looking for information or wanting to send out an application should call the energy department of their local CAA.
Residents of New Britain can call the HRA at 860-356-2000.
Residents of Bristol can call the BCO at 860-584-2725.