Newsroom > DHHS News Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

November 14, 2008

CONTACT
Jeanne Atkinson, Communications and Legislative Services (402) 471-8287,
Jeanne.Atkinson@nebraska.gov

 

Nebraska Gets $44 Million to Help Eligible Families with Energy Costs

Lincoln – Armed with more than $44 million in federal energy assistance funds, help is on the way for low-income Nebraskans struggling to heat their homes this winter. The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) distributes the money year-round for energy assistance through its Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).

Congress, anticipating increased demand, nearly doubled the federal allocation for LIHEAP funds nationally from $2.7 billion last year to $5.1 billion this year. Nebraska’s share of $44,086,275 is an increase of nearly 70% from last year’s total program allocation of $26 million.

“In difficult economic times, LIHEAP can really be a lifesaver for low-income Nebraskans trying to stay warm,” said Todd Landry, director of the Division of Children and Family Services for DHHS.

Much of Nebraska’s LIHEAP money goes where it is needed the most—to help heat homes in the winter and cool homes in the summer. In addition to regular energy assistance, LIHEAP money is used for home weatherization assistance and for crisis assistance.

To be eligible for LIHEAP assistance, individuals and families must have limited incomes and resources. The amount of the benefit is determined by income, household size, type of dwelling, and fuel type. For this fiscal year, Nebraska households that have income levels of 125 percent of the federal poverty level qualify for LIHEAP. For example, a two-person household can earn $17,505 and qualify for energy assistance.

The type of fuel a household uses also helps determine the benefit amount. For example, the minimum payment for a house fueled by gas and electricity is $290; fuel oil, $483; wood, $395; and propane, $504.

The income limits rise with each additional family member and are spelled out in detail on the DHHS website. Go to http://www.dhhs.ne.gov and search for "energy assistance."

And, Landry said, in addition to contacting their local DHHS office, Nebraskans can now apply for LIHEAP online by going to www.ACCESSNebraska.ne.gov .

People may also be eligible for crisis assistance if they’ve been threatened with a utility shutoff or have received a shutoff notice. Benefit amounts for crisis assistance are determined on a case-by-case basis.

During the last program year, DHHS provided energy assistance to more than 33,500 households.

“With LIHEAP, there’s help so families do not have to go without heat,” said Landry.

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