(The Center Square) – New Jersey families struggling to pay utilities have access to another $12.77 million in assistance, according to a release from the governor’s office.
The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, overseen by the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs, was awarded a second infusion for the fiscal year, Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy’s office said. At $302.4 million, this is the Garden State's largest annual allocation since the program began 41 years ago and is up more than 168%.
LIHEAP allocation from the federal government to New Jersey would normally be $112.7 million. The increase is credited to regular spending bills, the $1.9 trillion coronavirus stimulus law, and the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure law, according to multiple published reports.
LIHEAP aids households at or below 60% of the state median income – that’s $6,439 monthly for a family of four – to assist paying for energy costs like heating and cooling. "Vulnerable people," the release says, can also get assistance for essential cooling bills.
“We know that New Jerseyans continue to struggle to pay their utilities and this funding will go a long way in helping even more people in the coming months,” DCA Commissioner Sheila Oliver said in the governor's office release. “Since eligibility requirements have been expanded to include higher income levels, we’re urging people to apply for assistance on our one-stop online portal, DCAid.”
In addition to LIHEAP, eligible New Jerseyans can through the DCA get connected to the Low Income Household Water Assistance Program and the Universal Service Fund.
LIHWAP sends benefits directly to water and wastewater companies on behalf of residential customers. USF provides a monthly credit on electric and gas bills for households at or below 400% of federal poverty – that’s $8,833 a month for a family of four.