DES MOINES — The state is taking applications for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, otherwise known as LIHEAP.
Program manager Bill Marquess says the situation is a lot better for many who fell behind on their bills thanks to extra money that started during the pandemic. “And we’ve used that to increase crisis maximums, we helped get a lot of people down with zero balance going into the heating season this year,” he says. “Now, so far this year, there is only one award. So it is lower than what we’ve seen in the past three years.”
He says the maximum amount you can get from LIHEAP this year is $700. “The past three years, because of all the surplus money we got, we were able to set that maximum up to $3000. So I mean, that’s a really a big difference. And people are definitely going to feel that effect this year. Unless we do get some additional supplemental funding,” Marquess says.
The utility disconnection moratorium went into effect on November 1st, and that could be important to LIHEAP participants. “Anybody who is approved for LIHEAP is going to be protected from disconnection under that moratorium law. So hopefully, you know, we’ve gotten a lot of people down to where there is no issue of disconnection because we were able to get them down to a zero balance,” he says.
Marquess says anyone who might be eligible for the funding should sign up as soon as they can through their local Community Action Agency in your home town. “You can Google Community Action Agency in your county, and that will direct you to the right place. You can also call United Way 2-1-1. They can help direct you as well,” he says. “And the Iowa Department of Health and Human Services website also has a list of the community action agencies. They offer online applications, phone applications, mailing applications, and you can schedule an appointment for a in person application as well.”
Marquess says they get around 83,000 applications each year for the program.