Folks Line Up for LIHEAP

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. -- Staying warm for the winter can become a financial burden for some in our area. This was the first day for families to apply for the government's help to pay heating bills.

The Low Income Home Energy Assitance Program (LIHEAP) helps families stay warm for the winter.

LIHEAP is a government assistance program that helps out thousands in our region pay for fuel to heat their homes.

LIHEAP starts today

It was a busy day outside of the LIHEAP crisis program office in Wilkes-Barre. With winter right around the corner, families want to make sure their homes stay warm.

For some, the federal program known as LIHEAP is a necessity.

"Basically, we would have been without lights, without being able to eat, without being able to keep our food fresh. This keeps us going as people," said Luis Ortiz of Hanover Township.

"This is the time that we really need this. At this time of the year, it is time to get the LIHEAP," said Dawn Olivier of Hanover Township.

Some low-income families can use LIHEAP to pay their heating bills with a cash grant that's sent directly to the utility company.

Another option would be what's called a "crisis grant" that helps homeowners in immediate danger of losing heat.

"When a family is in need of an emergency heating assistance such as low fuel, your utility services are terminated, or your heating system is malfunctioning, that is when you apply for LIHEAP crisis program," explained Jennifer Warabak of the Commission on Economic Opportunity.

Homeowners looking to apply to crisis program will need to bring in their previous month of income prior to the application date, social security cards for all household members, and a copy of their utility bill.

Jennifer Warabak has worked with the LIHEAP crisis program for more than 15 years.

"We live in northeast Pennsylvania and you never know what your heating costs are going to be. The purpose of LIHEAP cash and crisis is to not pay your bills for the entire winter season. The purpose is to supplement what you are already paying," said Warabak.

Online applications for LIHEAP can be completed at www.compass.state.pa.us.

Paper applications are available through local county assistance offices, or interested applicants can download and print an application from the department’s website.

For helpful tips on keeping warm throughout the winter while saving money on utility costs, visit www.energysavers.gov.

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