The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, LIHEAP, is a federally funded program that helps families and individuals with their energy bills. New Jersey’s program is administered by the Department of Community Affairs/Division of Housing and Community Resources. It provides for heating assistance, emergency crisis assistance and medically necessary cooling assistance. The application period is open from October 1, 2019 to June 30, 2021.
Links to a downloadable application, fact sheet, benefit amounts and other information on the LIHEAP and Universal Service Fund (USF) can be found at the bottom of the page.
Households certified for LIHEAP and/or USF are among those protected against utility shutoffs between November 15 and March 15, in accordance with the Board of Public Utilities Winter Termination Program.
The state of New Jersey’s LIHEAP income guidelines are based on 200% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL). The gross monthly income limit for the Universal Service Fund (USF) is set at 185% FPL. Households not eligible for either of these programs may be eligible for temporary assistance from the PAGE (Payment Assistance for Gas and Electric) administered by the Affordable Housing Alliance on behalf of the Board of Public Utilities. Help is also available from New Jersey SHARES the statewide nonprofit via a network of more than 250 agencies at more than 300 sites. Weatherization services, promoting energy conservation, are available from Comfort Partners or the Weatherization Assistance Program.
Income limits are listed below for the following New Jersey energy programs: Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), Universal Service Fund (USF), NJ SHARES, PAGE, Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) and Comfort Partners.
|Family Size||Monthly LIHEAP Income Limits Effective Date 10/01/20||Monthly USF Income Limits Effective Date 10/01/20||Monthly NJ SHARES Income Limits Effective Date 1/29/20||Yearly PAGE Max. Income Limits Effective Date 10/01/20||Yearly WAP Income Limits Effective Date 1/15/20||Yearly Comfort Partners Income Limits Effective Date 1/15/20|
The PAGE program also has a minimum annual income requirement. The minimum income requirements for the period beginning October 1, 2020 are: Household size 1 – $25,532; 2 – $34,492; 3 – $43,452; 4 – $52,412; 5 – $61,372; 6 – $70,332; 7 – $79,292; 8 – $88,252; 9 – $97,212; 10 – $106,172. To qualify for PAGE the household annual income must fall within the minimum and maximum income range.
Other energy programs include:
Universal Service Fund (USF) – a state funded program. Eligibility requirements include: 1) income less than or equal to 185% of the Federal Poverty Level. See above income guidelines. 2) USF applicant must reside at the address provided on their utility account, and 3) an energy burden defined as a bill greater than 3% of household income, or 6% if electric heat. Benefits are credited monthly to the utility account. Households found eligible for LIHEAP benefits are screened automatically for USF. Applications for USF are available year round. USF credits can be transferred from one address to another so discuss details with the utility company when reporting a change of address.
Fresh Start is a component of the USF program. It is available upon receiving USF for the first time. A household is automatically enrolled in the program if there is a balance of $60 or more on the bill. Under this forgiveness program the arrearage is set aside when a customer is placed in the program. The previous balance will be erased if the customer pays their bill for the next 12 months in full. Fresh Start is a one time only program and is only available the first time a customer is enrolled in USF. Details are available through the utility companies customer service representatives.
Lifeline Credit Program is a state funded program available to people at least 65 years of age or disabled and receiving Social Security disability benefits. The 2020 income limits are: $28,399 for an individual or $34,817 for a couple. Applicants can call the Lifeline/PAAD Hotline at 800-792-9745 or their local County Office on Aging.
Payment Assistance for Gas and Electric (PAGE) is a program established by the Board of Public Utilities to provide relief for low to moderate income gas and electric customers who are experiencing a temporary financial crisis and administered by the Affordable Housing Alliance. To qualify, a household must have not recently received a LIHEAP or USF benefit. See their website for a list of affiliated agencies. For more information and details call 732-982-8710.
New Jersey SHARES is a statewide 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides assistance to energy customers with income above government program guidelines but below 400% of the Federal Poverty Level. Applicants must demonstrate a temporary financial need and a history of good-faith payments. Households receiving other benefit programs (LIHEAP, USF, TANF, GA) may not qualify. NJ SHARES is comprised of a network of more than 250 intake agencies. Their toll free phone number is 866-657-4273.
The ACE Helping Hands program assists Atlantic City Electric customers who are in a temporary financial crisis. The maximum grant is $200 for households with income less than 400% of the Federal Poverty Level. Helping Hands funds are made available at the beginning of each calendar year. Total funding is $1 million per year, so funds are limited. The program is administered by the following four agencies: Affordable Housing Alliance 732-389-2204; Catholic Charities Diocese of Camden 856-342-4100; New Jersey SHARES 866-657-4273; People for People Foundation of Gloucester County 856-579-7561;
Gift of Warmth is available to New Jersey Natural Gas customers experiencing temporary financial hardship. See their payment assistance web page for details.
Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) – a federally funded program. It enables the elderly, disabled and low-income persons in weatherizing their homes, improve their heating system efficiency and conserving energy. The income limits are set at 200% of the Federal Poverty Level. The program is administered by community based organizations under the auspices of the Department of Community Affairs. See their income guidelines or contact the local Weatherization agency.
Comfort Partners – is a state funded program designed to improve energy affordability for income eligible households. Eligibility requirements include: a household with significant energy use, income within 250% of the Federal Poverty Level or receiving USF, Lifeline, or Pharmaceutical Assistance to the Aged and Disabled (PAAD). Participants receive installation of cost effective energy efficiency measures for their home plus personalized energy education and counseling. New Jersey Comfort Partners phone number is 800-915-8309.
New Jersey Clean Energy Program, administered by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, offers financial incentives, programs and services to New Jersey residents, business owners and local governments to help them save energy, money and the environment. It promotes increased energy efficiency and the use of clean, renewable sources of energy. For more information call 866-NJ-SMART (866-657-6278).
Households that receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits – formerly food stamps – may receive heating benefits through information entered by their County Welfare Agency. Households not selected should contact the 2-1-1 Partnership by dialing “2-1-1” or 800-510-3102, the LIHEAP Hotline. Applicants should call these phone numbers rather than their local application agency when checking on the status of their application.
The following links are available at the Department of Community Affairs website:
Last updated: October 15, 2020
Copyright © 2020 by Michael R. Swayze