Utility Assistance Help Options
Whether you have hit hard times during the pandemic or are in between jobs and need help paying for your monthly utilities, there are benefits waiting for you. Learn more about which programs you are eligible for here.
If you need help paying for your heat, water or electricity bills, there is help. If you are struggling to pay your utility bills, then the government, on both the state and federal levels, have multiple programs designed to help you out. Most of these assistance programs are only temporary, to help you get out of a tough situation and back onto solid financial footing. Some of the programs are offered as grants, which never need to be repaid. Other programs work like loans, which you will at some point have to repay. Still others are gifted as a charity through various organizations. All states in the U.S. offer some form of utility relief program. Read on to discover which utility payment assistance you may qualify for, and how to apply for them.
Low Income Energy Assistance Program
Low Income Energy Assistance Program is a federally funded program that helps low-income families with their household energy payments. The federal government funds each state-run LIEAP, and you can apply for assistance through your state’s individual Low Income Energy Assistance Program. LIEAP can help with monthly bills, emergency situations in which your utilities may have been shut off due to late payments, or even low-cost home improvements known as weatherization, to make your utility bills lower through making your home energy more efficient.
If you are eligible for TANF, SNAP or SSI, then you will automatically meet eligibility for the Low-Income Energy Assistance Program in your state. Priority eligibility is given to households containing a person 60 years or older, or somebody with a disability who is receiving state disability benefits.
The Low-Income Energy Assistance Program offers a one-time payment annually to help with home energy costs. Check your state’s LIEAP website for the date by which applications must be submitted for the 2022 fiscal year.
Crisis Intervention Program
The Crisis Intervention Program (CIP) is a state-run program that helps with utility payment emergencies through federally funded benefits. If your household has received an electricity bill that you have not been able to pay, or a final notice, and you have a household family member who has a life-threatening health risk, you are eligible to apply for this government assistance.
Only one person in your household needs to be at a health risk to meet eligibility criteria, but they must be a citizen of the United States or a non-citizen with alien status from the Immigration and Naturalization Service. You also must have an income 200% below the poverty line, have a heating or cooling related emergency, and have your utilities statement to show how much is owed to have your electricity turned back on.
To find out about your state’s Crisis Intervention Program, visit your local Social Security Office or give them a call.
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) is a program that helps support families who are in between jobs and in a financial crisis. TANF is a federally funded state run, or territory-run program whose goal is to help families in specific times of financial crisis. The federal government provides about $16.5 billion to state and territory run TANF programs to help assist families in temporary financial need with financial benefits, job assistance, and childcare,
TANF eligible families will receive a lump-sum payment equal to three months’ worth of benefits to be used towards housing and electricity payments. Eligibility requirements for this assistance include having children in the household, being 200% below the poverty level, and having proof of citizenship. You can apply for your state’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families through your local Department of Social Services.
Rental Assistance Program
Each county has a rental assistance program that can help with pandemic-related financial losses that are affecting your ability to pay your housing costs and utilities. You can find your county’s webpage for their Rental Assistance Program here. Many counties group together rental assistance programs into their Housing Assistance Program for anybody affected by Covid-19 related financial losses. Each county has their own eligibility requirements to receive benefits.
Energy Efficient Mortgage Insurance
The Energy Efficient Mortgage Insurance program helps you save money on electricity payments by helping you get government loans to cover the costs of weatherization for your home. Weatherization is the process of adding features to your electricity system to save energy such as solar panels to a Federal Housing Administration insured new home purchase or existing refinancing mortgage.
The Energy Efficient Mortgage program helps homeowners add the cost of energy-efficient improvements to their loan amount. To qualify for this Mortgage Insurance, you must qualify for the portion of the loan used to purchase or refinance your home, but you are not required to qualify for the portion of the loan used for making energy efficient upgrades. This is because the Energy Efficient Mortgage Insurance understands that if you have to pay less for energy bills each month, you will be able to pay more for your mortgage payments.
To qualify for the Energy Efficient Mortgage Insurance, you must meet the FHA’s minimum credit requirements for purchasing a new home or refinancing the home you have. Your home improvement plan to make your home electricity system more energy-efficient must be cost effective, meaning the amount of money you will save in the future by making the improvements during the life-span of your improvements must be more than the amount you are spending to make the improvements.
A home energy rating report will determine how much your savings will amount to over the lifespan of your improved electricity system. This report will be made by an energy consultant using the Home Energy Rating System (HERS). The cost of the report will be covered by the amount you are saving with your energy-efficient improvements. .
You can learn more about this loan program by visiting the HUD program page.