Newsroom > DHHS News Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 7, 2010

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

LIHEAP Helps Thousands of Eligible Families with Energy Costs


Note: A sound bite is available at: http://www.dhhs.ne.gov/Pages/audio.aspx

Lincoln – Cold weather and record-breaking snowfalls across the state have left many Nebraskans struggling to heat their homes. For those needing help paying their heating bills, LIHEAP may be the answer. LIHEAP is the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program available through the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

This year Nebraska received $39.5 million in federal energy assistance funds. Last year, 40,000 households received energy assistance benefits.

“This winter is shaping up to be a difficult one for a lot of people,” said Todd Reckling, Director of the Division of Children and Family Services for DHHS. “Harsh winter weather mixed with an economy that continues to struggle makes LIHEAP a real lifesaver for low-income Nebraskans trying to stay warm.”

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. LIHEAP payments for regular energy assistance are usually sent to utility providers and awarded only once per season to a person. In addition to regular energy assistance, LIHEAP money is used for home weatherization assistance and for crisis assistance to people threatened with a utility shutoff.

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 (Oct. 1, 2009 – Sept. 30, 2010), Nebraska households that have income levels of 125% of the federal poverty level qualify for LIHEAP. For example, a two-person household can earn $18,225 and qualify for energy assistance.

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

Nebraskans can apply for LIHEAP and other benefits at local DHHS offices, or they can apply on-line by going to www.ACCESSNebraska.ne.gov .

“With LIHEAP, there’s help so low-income families struggling to make ends meet do not have to go without heat,” said Reckling.

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