NEWARK, NJ – U.S. Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) today announced that the Obama Administration is immediately releasing $119,394,579 from the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) to help New Jersey families stay warm. 

“This funding is literally a lifeline for thousands of low income families, seniors, and laid off workers who are already struggling to make ends meet in a tough economic environment and simply can’t afford the steep cost of heating their homes,” said Senator Menendez.  “And in the wake of super storm Sandy, these funds can provide critical help to at-risk families still suffering without heat.”

"Home heating assistance for New Jersey families is especially critical in the wake of Superstorm Sandy and this funding will help provide better living conditions for families across the state," stated Lautenberg, a member of the Appropriations Committee, which funds LHEAP.  "This is a critical federal program and we'll keep fighting to ensure the federal government can provide this safety net for New Jersey families." 

The federally funded LIHEAP program helps low-income households and seniors pay their heating bills.  Particularly important as the state recovers from Hurricane Sandy, the program’s funds may also be used to place people in locations with access to heating. The money, which is usually used for fuel to heat homes, can also be used to purchase temporary rentals, blankets and generators for LIHEAP beneficiaries impacted by the storm.

During an energy crisis, LIHEAP allows states greater flexibility. After a disaster, LIHEAP funds can be used to deal with crisis situations, particularly with respect to assistance for home energy related needs. For example, LIHEAP funds can be used for the costs to temporarily shelter or house individuals in hotels, costs for transportation to move individuals away from the crisis area to shelters, utility reconnection costs, repair or replacement costs for furnaces, insulation repair, coats, blankets, crisis payments for utilities and utility deposits and the purchase of generators.

New Jersey residents must need financial assistance for home energy costs and must meet a specific threshold of annual income before taxes. 

Last month, Menendez and Lautenberg joined a letter urging Health and Human Services Secretary Sebelius to release LIHEAP funds as quickly as possible and at the highest possible level. The funding was made available under the Fiscal Year 2013 Continuing Resolution. For the full letter, visit: http://liheap.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/LIHEAP-to-HHS-Oct-20121.pdf1.pdf

For more information on the LIHEAP program in New Jersey, call 1-800-510-3102 or visit: http://www.state.nj.us/dca/divisions/dhcr/offices/heausfincomefact.html