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Expanded program year and tiered application will prioritize families most in need of assistance; Applications will launch on October 2, 2023
Governor JB Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) released information about this year’s Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) to support with utility costs. LIHEAP will begin accepting applications on October 2, 2023, through August 15, 2024, or until funds are exhausted.
“Every Illinoisan, regardless of income, deserves to be able to keep the lights on and stay warm—especially as we near wintertime,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “Thanks to $237 million from our Help Illinois Families Program, thousands of households will be eligible for LIHEAP to offset skyrocketing utility costs. And with equity as our north star, this year’s tiered program will prioritize families with the greatest needs, so that our elders, young children, and disabled neighbors have the resources they need to maintain energy access.”
The energy bill assistance program offered through the Help Illinois Families Program in program year 2023 will provide $237 million to eligible families to assist with natural gas, propane, and electricity bills.
Overview of Program Improvements for LIHEAP in 2023
Program Year 2023 includes a variety of improvements based on feedback from advocates such as the expanded program year, as well as re-instating the pre-pandemic practice of tiered applications to allow families most in need to apply first.
|Program Year 2022||Program Year 2023|
|Program Length (period when families can apply)||8 months||10.5 months|
|Program Dates||September 1, 2022 – May 31, 2023||October 2, 2023 – August 15, 2024|
|Application Process||No tiered process||Tiered application dates to ensure families most in need are prioritized|
“LIHEAP is an important resource for Illinois families and the program improvements will help prioritize families who need the most assistance,” said DCEO Director Kristin Richards. “Through a program year extension and tiered application periods, the State of Illinois is providing the resources necessary for reliable access to energy utilities.”
Beginning October 2, 2023, eligible families can apply by visiting helpillinoisfamilies.com or by visiting their local agency (a list of partners throughout the State can be found here). Families can also call 1-833-711-0374 for assistance in 30 languages.
During the pandemic, the tiered application system which was previously in place was paused due to greater widespread need. This year, the tiered application system will be reinstated to ensure families most in need are able to apply first. The first group eligible to apply is expected to represent more than half of households that apply for the program.
- October 2 – Income-eligible households who fall under the following categories:
- Households with seniors age 60+
- Households with a documented long-term disability
- Households with children under age 6
- November 1 – Income-eligible households who fall under the following categories:
- October priority period households
- Households that are disconnected
- Households facing imminent threat of disconnection
- December 1
- All income-eligible households
LIHEAP provides one-time payments directly to energy service providers on behalf of recipients. While the amount of support varies based on the needs of individual families, last year over 311,000 households received LIHEAP, with an average of over $1,000 per household.
All families who meet the qualifications and provide proper documentation will receive support until funding is exhausted. Families who earn up to two-times the federal poverty level are eligible to receive support through LIHEAP. A chart with eligible income thresholds can be found on the webpage and below:
|FAMILY SIZE (HOUSEHOLD)||30-DAY GROSS INCOME|
Additional Program Information:
The State of Illinois offers various programs to support eligible low-income families with utility assistance. These programs are open to ALL eligible low-income Illinois families who meet the criteria, including undocumented families. Programs for eligible families include:
- One-time Direct Vendor Payment: All LIHEAP recipients receive a one-time payment.
- Crisis/Reconnection Assistance: Funding is available for families in heating-related emergency situations.
- Furnace Assistance: Based on funding availability, Furnace Assistance may be provided to households that do not have an operating furnace for their residence.
- Home Weatherization Program: The Illinois Home Weatherization Assistance Program (IHWAP) helps low-income residents and households conserve fuel and reduce energy costs by making their homes and apartments more energy efficient.
Last year’s LIHEAP funding – which was available from September 2022 through May 2023 – provided assistance to a record number of 311,214 households.