Households Experiencing a Loss in Income May Apply for Funding

TRENTON, NJ – Recognizing that many people in the state have lost income as a result of the COVID-19 public health emergency, the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA) reminds households that applications are still being accepted for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). The federally-funded program assists individuals and families with their home heating and medically-necessary cooling bills and provides emergency heating system services and emergency fuel assistance. Program funding is administered through the DCA Division of Housing and Community Resources.

“Governor Murphy and I understand that loss of employment or diminished income during the COVID-19 pandemic may make it very difficult for people to pay their energy bills. We also recognize that people who previously weren’t eligible for utility assistance might be eligible now because their employment situation has changed. Therefore, we encourage people who are in need to apply for help,” said Lt. Governor Sheila Y. Oliver, DCA Commissioner. “No one should be left struggling to pay for their utilities during this crisis. DCA has resources available and stands ready to assist as many households as possible.”


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To be eligible for LIHEAP assistance, households must be responsible for home energy costs, either directly or included in the rent, and have a gross income at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level. Persons who live in public housing and/or receive rental assistance are not eligible unless they are responsible for their own energy costs paid directly to the fuel supplier. The amount of the LIHEAP benefit is determined by income, household size, fuel type, and region.

Households that qualify for the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) – formerly food stamps – are automatically screened to determine eligibility for LIHEAP. SNAP applicants are encouraged to provide electric, gas, oil and other energy utility bills that could qualify them to receive LIHEAP assistance to help pay heating and medically-necessary cooling costs. SNAP recipients who qualify for LIHEAP may be eligible for an increase in SNAP benefits.

Local agencies are accepting inquiries and applications through email and through secure drop boxes in front of their offices to ensure social distancing.

The LIHEAP application also serves as an application for the Universal Service Fund (USF) Program, which is state funded and administered by the DCA Division of Housing and Community Resources. USF helps low-income households pay for their electric and natural gas costs.

To be eligible for USF, a household must have a gross income at or below 185 percent of the federal poverty level and pay more than 3 percent of its annual income for electric (6 percent if the home also has electric heat) or more than 3 percent of its annual income for natural gas.

The chart below provides the current maximum monthly pre-tax income eligibility levels for both LIHEAP and USF.

Fiscal Year 2020

Household Size

LIHEAP Program

USF Program





































If more than 12, add:

$177 for each person

$682 for each person


People can find out if they qualify for assistance for LIHEAP, USF, and other DCA programs by completing DCA’s anonymous online screening tool called DCAid at

People can also call NJ 2-1-1 any day, any time to speak with a call specialist who can provide the locations and hours of local LIHEAP application agencies, explain how home energy assistance programs work, check on the status of a LIHEAP application once it has been submitted, and help find alternative resources if a person doesn’t qualify for LIHEAP and/or USF benefits. By calling 1-800-510-3102, people can be connected with call specialists who have expertise in LIHEAP, USF, and other utility assistance programs. NJ 2-1-1 is funded by the United Ways of New Jersey in partnership with the State of New Jersey.

For a list of agencies that accept LIHEAP applications and more information, people can also visit the DCA website at or call toll free: 1-800-510-3102.

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Allan Dean

Allan Dean is editor, publisher, and founder of the Atlantic Highlands Herald. Published since 1999 and selected in 2000 by the Borough of Atlantic Highlands as one of their official newspapers, making...