Pa. families have more time to apply for LIHEAP assistance paying for heating bills

(J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo, file)

(J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo, file)

Pennsylvania families have more time to apply for LIHEAP assistance.

The application deadline was moved from May 20 to June 17, the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services announced Thursday morning.

Pennsylvanians who are behind on or having trouble paying home heating bills can apply for assistance through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program for LIHEAP Cash and LIHEAP Crisis benefits. Both renters and homeowners are eligible for the aid.

The income limit for the program is 150% of the Federal Poverty Limit. For a household of four,  that means $39,740 gross income per year.

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“LIHEAP helps some of the commonwealth’s most vulnerable citizens – children, older Pennsylvanians, people with disabilities, and low-income families – make ends meet and keep their homes safer,”  said DHS Acting Secretary Meg Snead. “If you are having trouble paying bills from this winter, please apply by June 17 so LIHEAP can help ease this burden.”

The Credit Counseling Center in Bucks County is a nonprofit that helps people apply for LIHEAP and other emergency aid programs.

Paula Powers-Watts, their executive director, said the extension will be vital for many individuals and families in need. The Credit Counseling Center serves mostly residents of Lower Bucks County, like Levittown, Croydon, Morrisville, and Bensalem.

“We’re seeing delinquent utility bills on a regular basis,” Powers-Watts said. “People have lost their contracts to have oil delivered because they weren’t able to keep up with the payments.”

Powers-Watts said about 25% of their clients are coming in with a need for LIHEAP assistance.

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“It is really helpful for families so they can get assistance so they don’t have to sacrifice putting gas in the car, food on the table,” said Powers-Watts.

The LIHEAP extension was made possible due to funds available from the federal American Rescue Plan Act.

The minimum cash grant for LIHEAP is $500, and the maximum cash grant is $1,500.

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