LIHEAP program expanded in New Jersey.
The state of New Jersey has expanded home heating assistance programs using federal stimulus funds. As part of Governor Corzine’s Economic Recovery and Assistance Plan, New Jersey has increased the household income eligibility for the LIHEAP program from 175% of the federal poverty level to 225%. This increase in the income threshold allowed approximately 50,000 more households to be eligible for LIHEAP in 2009, and the number allowed in 2010 will probably increase even more. Almost 290,000 households and $170 million granted for the period of December, 2008-July, 2009. That is over a 100% increase from the previous year.
In addition, many of LIHEAP eligible households will receive New Jersey Universal Service Fund (USF) benefits as well. What this means for households that are heated by gas will receive an average of $1,290 per household and those homes that are heated by electricity will receive an average of $980 per household. These electric and gas figures include both LIHEAP and USF benefits. And those households that are heated by deliverable heating fuel will receive an average of $1,200 per household.
What is the New Jersey LIHEAP program? It provides low and low-mid income households with free grant money to help pay their winter heating bills as well as summer cooling bills. The assistance program funding is administered through the DCA’s Division of Housing and Community Resources. In 2009, DCA received $188 million in funds, when compared to approximately $117 million received last year is a very large increase. In addition, the Governor also enhanced the electric benefit and grants provided by 10% over last year’s benefit, the state increased the gas benefit 20% over last year’s benefit and enhanced the home heating oil household benefit to an average of approximately four times last year’s benefit. The bottom line is there is much more aid out there this year.