Trenton, NJ - Governor Chris Christie today announced that approximately 135,000 seniors and disabled households throughout New Jersey will receive help with home cooling expenses this summer in addition to winter home heating assistance through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). Those New Jerseyans who need it most will soon receive an emergency $100 supplemental benefit to help cope with the recent heat wave. An additional 47,000 households that received medically-required cooling assistance will also receive a $100 supplemental benefit to address the hot summer temperatures and higher electric utility bills. The benefits will begin distribution in mid-August.
“With this summer’s temperatures peaking around 100 degrees, many New Jerseyans are struggling with higher utility bills to stay cool and beat the heat,” said Governor Christie. “That’s why I am pleased that my Administration is able to expand our support services to provide these emergency benefits that will ease the strain on our seniors and disabled citizens to help pay their cooling bills this summer.”
Eligible households do not need to reapply for the program to receive supplemental benefits. These funds will be issued as credits to utility accounts or issued by check, if a credit cannot be processed. The benefits are available because additional LIHEAP funding was provided by the Federal Government after the initiation of the LIHEAP season.
“The combination of the record-setting heat and humidity make for a dangerous situation for our elderly and disabled populations, who are most at risk during summer heat waves. These emergency funds are just one of the ways the LIHEAP program provides invaluable help to thousands of New Jersey’s most vulnerable low-income households,” said New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Lori Grifa.
Recently the Department of Community Affairs also issued $35,728,500 in Supplemental Benefits to 143,000 households in the current LIHEAP assistance program year. Most of these funds went as credit directly to the household's utility account in order to provide some relief to last season’s heating bills, or this season’s air conditioning needs.
The DCA’s Division of Housing and Community Resources administers the LIHEAP program, which is a federally-funded initiative that helps low-income residents with their heating and cooling bills, and makes provisions for emergency heating system services and emergency fuel assistance. To be eligible for LIHEAP benefits, a household must be responsible for home heating or cooling costs, either directly or included in the rent, and have a gross income at or below 200% of the federal poverty level.
The LIHEAP supplemental assistance announced today is part of Governor Christie’s broader commitment to protect seniors and the disabled, including direct property tax relief, pharmaceutical assistance programs and home and community based services. The Governor’s Fiscal Year 2012 Budget increases funding for the Senior Freeze property tax relief program by $90 million, funds the Pharmaceutical Assistance to the Aged and Disabled (PAAD) and Senior Gold programs for approximately 160,000 low-income seniors without increases in co-pays or changes in eligibility for life-saving medications, expands home care support services by $47.6 million and increases outreach efforts to provide access to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)/Food Stamps.