September 12, 2014—With the next federal Fiscal Year set to begin October 1, the majority of state LIHEAP grantees are preparing to launch their programs. In a few cases, states already have their LIHEAPs up and running.
South Dakota began its year-round LIHEAP program on July 1. In Illinois, LIHEAP staggers its application period to give vulnerable populations early access. It started taking applications from income-eligible households with elderly and disabled members on September 2. Starting October 1, low-income households with children under six years old or with inoperable heating systems can submit applications. Illinois LIHEAP opens its program up to all income-eligible households starting November 1.
More than 25 states are set to begin their LIHEAPs on October 1, including more than 10 that start year-round programs on that date. The need for energy assistance is readily apparent around the country.
Throughout the Midwest, low-income households have struggled to get back on track following the propane crisis of last year's heating season, and numerous states are urging those households to fill their tanks early. Low-income households are also facing disconnects and large outstanding balances on their bills. Earlier this year, reports out of Iowa found over 240,000 households were behind on their utility bills to the tune of almost $46 million. Similarly, AARP reported in July that New Yorkers owed $740 million on their energy bills. Advocacy groups in New York also have told the media that three large utilities in the state have disconnected utility service for over 520,000 households since January 2014. Both Iowa and New York start their LIHEAPs on October 1.
Sources: Media reports, Fiscal Year 2015 Plans