The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) has an additional $8.2 million from the CARES Act to assist Arkansas households struggling with their electric bills.
Distribution of the funding will begin on July 27, and will continue through Sept. 30, 2021, or until the $8.2 million is expended. The Community Services Office of Hot Springs and Garland County, 600 West Grand Avenue #200, will be administering the aid for households in the city and county. They can be contacted at 501-624-5724, ext. 203, or CSO-LIHEAPHELP@CSOArkansas.org.
The program’s usual limit of $500 will be raised to $1,500. Rather than a “shut off” notice, only a “past due” notice will now be required. This program is for electrical bills only (no gas, sewer or water bills), and funds do not go to cities or electrical companies. There is also a supplemental program for air-conditioning assistance to families that meet specific criteria, as well as assistance with winter-heating fuels.
The maximum income for LIHEAP eligibility is as follows:
- Household of one: yearly income of $20,351; monthly income of $1,696
- Household of two: yearly income of $26,613; monthly income of $2,218
- Household of three: yearly income of $32,875; monthly income of $2,740
- Household of four: yearly income of $39,300; monthly income of $3,275
- Household of five: yearly income of $46,020; monthly income of $3,835
- Household of six: yearly income of $52,740; monthly income of $4,395
- Household of seven: yearly income of $59,460; monthly income of $4,955
- Household of eight: yearly income of $66,180; monthly income of $5,515
- Household of nine: yearly income of $72,900; monthly income of $6,075
- Household of 10: yearly income of $79,620; monthly income of $6,635
LIHEAP is a block grant program administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Office of Community Services (OCS) within the Administration for Children and Families (ACF). It is designed to lower the energy burden for low-income individuals, who pay a high proportion of household income for home energy costs, by paying benefits for home energy bills. LIHEAP assists households with heating costs during the winter season and cooling costs during the summer season.
LIHEAP in Arkansas is operated by a network of fifteen (15) Community Action Agencies (CAAs), which serves all seventy-five (75) counties. CAAs receive other funding as well and operate multiple programs that assist low-income households.
Additional funds for LIHEAP in the amount of $8,209,119 were allocated to Arkansas from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed by the U.S. Congress and signed into law on March 27, 2020. The Arkansas Department of Energy and Environment plans to allocate these funds to the CAAs to operate a Supplemental Crisis program designed to assist more households who have experienced reduced income due to the coronavirus pandemic.