Malloy: Heating bill aid still available

Monday, March 11, 2013
Courtesy: 
Waterbury Republican American
Waterbury, CT

If you need help paying your heating bill this winter, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy wants you to know there is still time apply for federal energy aid, and there is still money available despite federal budget cuts.

Malloy said Friday that nearly 100,000 applications for home heating aid have been received so far this winter, and more than 82,000 households have been approved for basic benefits of up to $575.

Applications are running slightly above last year's rate, and the number of eligible households is up by 3 percent, he said.

Even with the recently enacted federal budget sequestration, which the state expects will cut about $4 million from its energy assistance funding, Connecticut still expects to have enough money available "to serve all Connecticut families and individuals who are eligible for the program," Malloy said Friday.

Federal benefits for low-income families and individuals are distributed through the Connecticut Energy Assistance Program, or CEAP, while aid for households with higher incomes is provided through the Contingency Heating Assistance Program, or CHAP. Eligibility for both programs is based on household size, income and liquid assets.

The state's energy assistance plan estimated that about 118,000 households would receive home-heating aid this winter, up 18 percent from the 100,000 served last winter. The state expects that about $84 million in federal energy funding will cover the cost of assistance in Connecticut, Malloy said.

Basic benefits for CEAP range from $350 to $575 for homeowners and renters whose heat is not included in their rent; and up to $120 for tenants whose heat is included. Also, CEAP-eligible households using "deliverable" fuels — heating oil, kerosene and propane — may be eligible for a one-time crisis assistance benefit of up to $400.

The basic benefit for CHAP is $300, with the potential for $100 in crisis benefits for households using deliverable fuels.

The deadline to apply to the state for aid is May 1, although eligible households that heat with oil, kerosene or propane are encouraged to apply by March 15 to be able to access full benefits.

Energy aid is administered by the state Department of Social Services and coordinated through regional Community Action Agencies. In the Torrington and Waterbury area, that agency is New Opportunities Inc., which can be reached at 203-756-8151. The Bristol area is served by Bristol Community Organization Inc. at 860-582-7490, while the Ansonia-Derby-Shelton area is served by TEAM Inc. at 203-736-5420.

Those in need may also call Infoline at 211 for assistance. Information on eligibility requirements and benefits is also available at www.ct.gov/staywarm.

"Applications for winter heating assistance remain available at more than 130 sites throughout the state," Malloy said. "I encourage the public to call the 211 Infoline for guidance about the closest application site."

Anyone in need who is not eligible for state or federal aid, or who has already used up their benefits, may be eligible for help through Operation Fuel, a private, nonprofit program based in Bloomfield. Information on Operation Fuel also is available by calling 211.

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