FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
10/27/2011
Marcelyn Love 217/558.1542
Kelly Jakubek 312/814.8198

 State Announces Open Enrollment for Home Heating Assistance

All Illinoisans Eligible for LIHEAP Program Can Apply Beginning Nov. 1

SPRINGFIELD � The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity's Office of Energy Assistance today announced that anyone eligible to receive winter heating assistance through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) can apply beginning on Nov. 1.

This year, for the first time, some LIHEAP clients will have the option of choosing between the traditional Direct Vendor Payment (DVP) plan or the new Percentage of Income Payment Plan (PIPP). The PIPP is available to eligible LIHEAP clients who are customers of Ameren Illinois, ComEd, Nicor Gas and Peoples Gas/North Shore Gas. Under PIPP, the eligible client will pay a percentage of their income, receive a monthly benefit towards their utility bill, and receive a reduction in overdue payments for every on-time payment they make by the bill due date.  The traditional DVP plan is a one-time payment.

Due to the start-up of PIPP, LIHEAP clients may experience longer wait times when applying for assistance, but should ultimately receive better service delivery. Clients must bring all required documentation when applying for assistance including:

� Proof of gross income from all household members for the 30-day period prior to the application date.
� A copy of their current heat and electric bills issued within the last 30 days (if they pay for their energy directly).
� A copy of their rental agreement (if they are renting) showing that utilities are included, the monthly rental amount and landlord contact information.
� Proof of Social Security numbers for all household members.
� Proof that their household received TANF or other benefits, such as Medical Eligibility or SNAP, if receiving assistance from the Illinois Department of Human Services.

LIHEAP is a state and federally funded energy assistance program for low income families, in which heating bill payments are made on behalf of households.

-MORE-

A single-person household can qualify with a monthly income of up to $1,361; a two-person household up to $1,839; a family of three can earn up to $2,316; and a family of four can earn up to $2,794. Benefits are paid directly to utilities on behalf of eligible households. The exception is households whose heating costs are included in their rent.

LIHEAP applications are processed through a network of 35 local administering agencies around the state. These agencies will begin accepting applications on a first-come, first served basis from all individuals eligible for LIHEAP assistance on Nov. 1.

Priority enrollment for seniors and people with disabilities eligible for LIHEAP began on Sept. 1.  Enrollment for households with children under the age of five for LIHEAP assistance began on Oct. 1.
 
Customers will be served on a first-come first-served basis until funding is exhausted.

For a complete listing of LIHEAP�s local administering agencies and additional information about the program, go to LiheapIllinois.com, or call the toll-free hotline at 1 877 411-WARM.