Applications available for low-income heating help

Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Wilmington is now taking applications for Delaware households to qualify for a benefit from Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). The federally-funded program assists low-income households with heating bills through direct payments to home energy suppliers. Catholic Charities is the statewide administrator for LIHEAP in Delaware.

The LIHEAP benefit is based on a household’s income, size and type of fuel.

“This benefit allows individuals and families to stay safely and comfortably in their homes. Although the program does not pay for all heating costs, it does provide an important financial supplement,” said Richelle A. Vible, Catholic Charities executive director.

“So many of our neighbors suffer during the colder months because they can’t afford their energy bills — the senior citizen who turns off all electrical appliances and heat and bathes at a neighbor’s, the grandparents now raising grandchildren, a single parent in training for a better-paying job. These are just some of the many persons that are helped through the LIHEAP program.”

LIHEAP offers the following supports to eligible households.

• The Fuel Assistance Program, providing home heating assistance for low-income families who need help paying winter energy bills. LIHEAP does not pay for all heating costs. Eligible households receive one annual benefit.

• The Energy Crisis Intervention Program, making help available to eligible households in an emergency situation. The supplemental benefit can be in addition to the regular fuel assistance benefit.

• The Summer Cooling/Electric Assistance Program, helping low-income families by paying a portion of summer electric bills. Eligible households receive one annual benefit. The program operates from June 1 through Aug. 31 if funds are available. In order to qualify for the Summer Cooling Program, households must be approved for the Fuel Assistance Heating Program.

Households may qualify for assistance if their total income falls within eligibility guidelines. For example, a household of four people can have no more than $50,325 in annual household income (before taxes). In order to apply, people must make an appointment with a Catholic Charities office for a personal interview. Applications are accepted from July through March.

For more information or to get an appointment, sall the local Catholic Charities office in Sussex County at (302) 856-6310.

If a household is eligible for LIHEAP, it may also qualify for other programs that require LIHEAP eligibility. For example, if a home is not as energy-efficient as it could be, the household may qualify for home weatherization improvements through the Delaware Weatherization Assistance Program. Catholic Charities administers the Weatherization Assistance Program in Kent and Sussex counties.

When a client comes to their appointment, they should bring the following information to more quickly move the application forward:

• Social Security cards for all members 6 months or older;

• Proof of U.S. citizenship (i.e. U.S. birth certificates/naturalization papers);

• Proof of Qualified Alien status;

• Photo ID with proof of current address;

• Copy of utility bill (electric, natural gas, propane, etc.);

• Lease, if a renter, or proof of home ownership; and

• Three months of income documentation for all adults in the household.

Catholic Charities, the charitable arm of the Catholic Diocese of Wilmington, has served those in need for more than 188 years, offering a wide range of services to strengthen families, care for children, assist the disadvantaged and build human relationships throughout Delaware and the Eastern Shore of Maryland.