(WJET/WFXP/YourErie.com)– This week, members of the Shapiro administration announced the start of an annual program designed to help low-income citizens stay warm this winter.

On Wednesday, Nov. 1, officials from the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) and Public Utility Commission (PUC) announced the start of the application process for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).

LIHEAP is a federally-funded program from the DHS that helps low-income renters and homeowners stay warm and safe during the winter through cash and crisis grants paid directly to utility suppliers. The application window for both opened Nov. 1 and will be open until April 5, 2024.

“Keeping your home warm during the coldest and darkest months of the year is a necessity, not a luxury. Every Pennsylvanian deserves the dignity and peace of mind of knowing that their heat will not be shut off this winter and they can keep themselves and their families safe and warm,” said Val Arkoosh, secretary of the PA DHS. “LIHEAP helps many of our fellow Pennsylvanians make ends meet by providing cash or crisis grants directly to their utility or home heating fuel provider. If you or someone you know needs help or could benefit from this program, I encourage you to apply for LIHEAP today.” 

This year, households receiving LIHEAP grants will see grant amounts return to more normal amounts after grants given out last year were supplemented by American Rescue Plan dollars with cash grants ranging from $300 to $1,000 per household. Crisis grants range from $25 to $1,000

These grants are given to the utility company or home heating fuel provider of households that meet income limits and face the possibility of having or already had their heating service terminated, have broken heating equipment or have less than two weeks’ worth of deliverable fuel, such as fuel oil, propane, coal, or wood.

“Working in combination, the annual winter LIHEAP grants along with various PUC-required utility assistance programs help hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvania households stay connected, safe, and warm,” said Stephen DeFrank, chairman of the Pennsylvania PUC. We strongly encourage families to apply for LIHEAP and also #CallUtilitiesNow to discuss all the affordability options that are available.” 

During the 2022-2023 season, 312,169 households received $125,572 in cash grants while over 135,000 households received $98,923,752 in LIHEAP crisis benefits across PA.

The income limit for LIHEAP is 150 percent of the Federal Poverty Level; for an individual, that is a gross income of $21,870 per year, and for a family of four, that is a gross income of $45,000 per year.  

PA residents can apply for LIHEAP now by calling the DHS at 1-800-692-7462 or by visiting their their website here.