The second phase of state efforts to help keep the hearth warm is now underway.
The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is offering crisis grants to provide emergency assistance for those trying to heat their homes.
On Nov. 1, the program began offering cash assistance which provides a cash grant, sent directly to a utility provider, to help low-income individuals heat their homes. The program has now expanded to include crisis grants, which address heating emergencies such as broken equipment or immediate danger of being without heat.
"Crisis is, ' Oh my gosh, I don't have enough to pay my utility bill this month'," Department of Public Welfare (DPW) Representative Donna Morgan said. "Cash is for ongoing low-income situations."
Receiving cash grant assistance does not preclude receiving emergency funds.
"We open the crisis program in January as the temperature drop in Pennsylvania really begin to plummet and heating one's home becomes a lifesaving measure," DPW Secretary Gary Alexander said in a press release. "Households who have already received a cash grant this year and find themselves in a heating emergency do not need to complete another application. As long as they have not had a change in address or number of people in their household, they can simply call their local county assistance office to request the crisis grant."
Not receiving cash grants doesn't disqualify applicants either.
"We are encouraging everyone, if you qualify, to apply," Morgan said. "We anticipate having enough to serve the entire clientele in the area. Our funding is pretty similar to last year. We hope to have around $209 million by the end of the month."
Last year, the LIHEAP program provided 1,535 Warren County residents with some level of cash assistance and 394 residents with crisis grants.
To apply for crisis funds online, according to the press release, visit www.compass.state.pa.us to complete online or download an application. Applications for crisis grants are also available through the Warren County Assistance Office's designated LIHEAP number at 726-2540.
Eligibility is determined by household size with the maximum income threshold for a single individual living alone starting at $16,755 and increasing by $5,940 per additional individual dwelling in a household.