A change in program administration means a delay for Tennesseans looking to apply for home energy utility assistance. New Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) applicants will need to apply on October 1 instead of July 1. Administration of the federal program designed to assist households of low income pay utility bills will be transferred from the Tennessee Department of Human Services (DHS) to the Tennessee Housing Development Agency (THDA) effective October 1, 2013.
Given LIHEAP’s transition to THDA, funds offered through the program will now be awarded to coincide with the federal fiscal year beginning October 1.
“Transitioning LIHEAP was identified during our Customer Focused Government process, formally known as the Top to Bottom Review, as a potential opportunity to increase efficiency and effectiveness in service to the people of Tennessee. “DHS is excited about this transition to improve customer service through better service alignment. We look forward to continued collaboration with community partners and THDA,” said Department of Human Services’ Commissioner Raquel Hatter.
“We have a long history in working through local providers. “I see a strong connection between LIHEAP and our existing housing assistance programs,” said Ralph M. Perrey, executive director of THDA.
LIHEAP’s mission is to assist households of low income — particularly those who pay a high proportion of household income for home energy bills — in helping them meet their immediate home energy needs. In state fiscal year 2012, LIHEAP served over 145,000 Tennessee households.
The on-going application process continues through the transition.
- Households that have not received LIHEAP assistance since July 2012 will be considered eligible for services through September 30, 2013.
- Households that have received LIHEAP assistance since July 2012 can re-apply October 1, 2013 in the next funding round.
Households are served on a priority point system specifically targeted toward persons who are elderly, disabled and/or under the age of six. LIHEAP payments are made directly to the local utility company or energy supplier. A network of community service providers process the applications. For more information on LIHEAP and to view a list of LIHEAP agencies, please visit http://tn.gov/humanserv/adfam/afs_hea.html
THDA administers the Housing Choice Voucher / Section 8, Weatherization, HOME and the THDA-funded Housing Trust Fund among other programs.
LIHEAP regulations establish 150 percent of the poverty level as the maximum income level allowed in determining eligibility. Income levels, maintained in the Federal Register by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, are viewable athttp://aspe.hhs.gov/poverty/11poverty.shtml. Currently, a Tennessee family of four with a household income no greater than $34,575 would meet eligibility requirements.