Utility Assistance Programs – Help with Paying Water, Electric, and Gas Bills

by Marcelina Hardy

in Government Programs

The water bill…the electric bill…the gas bill…it’s all come in the mail, and they are all high. You hardly had enough money for rent or your mortgage, and now you have all the utilities to pay.

All you can think about is how your water, electric and gas might be shut off soon because you can’t pay them – all you want to do is run into a hole and hide.

Wait, don’t run off just yet. You have hope! You can get help in paying for your utility bills.

Yes, there are utility assistance programs specially designed for people just like you struggling to pay for their utilities. They come to the rescue when you have nowhere to turn to pay for the items you need the most to keep your home running safely and efficiently.

The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)

This program from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families provides funding in the form of a Block Grant, Leveraging Incentive Program, Residential Energy Assistance Challenge Program (REACH), and Contingency Funds.

To be eligible for energy assistance, a household’s income cannot be greater than 150 percent of the poverty level or 60 percent of the State’s median income. Priority is given to homes with the highest energy costs.

An application can be found on the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program website at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/.

Contact the Water, Electric, or Gas Company

Many water and energy companies have programs for low-income families. For example, the Southern California Gas Company has a California Alternate Rates for Energy Program (CARE), which qualifies some people to receive a 20 percent rate discount. They also have a gas assistance fund, which provides up to $100 towards bills during the winter months.

To find out what you may be eligible for, you must call them to find out since these programs are sometimes not widely advertised.

You may also be able to budget your bill. This means you can ask them to bill you the same amount every month; instead, of paying what you owe each month.

That way, you know exactly how much you need to pay each month and avoid the shocking bills that come in the mail during the middle of the winter and summer.

Program Information from Social Services

Contact your local social services office, as they have information about energy assistance programs before most other places do. This includes assistance from area and national organizations as well as churches looking to donate assistance to needy families.

What to Know When Applying for Energy Assistance

It’s important to know that when you apply for energy assistance, you must provide information about your income and energy bills. While this may feel like an invasion of privacy, it’s necessary because they need to ensure their funding goes to people who truly need it.

The more information you can provide assistance programs, the more they can help you meet your energy needs in the quickest and easiest way possible.

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