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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 10, 2001

Governor Signs Legislation to Allow More Low Income Households to Participate in LIHEAP Program

SPRINGFIELD -- Governor George H. Ryan today signed House Bill 50 which raises the eligibility level for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) from 125% of the federal poverty level to 150%.

"This legislation will allow more Illinois households to qualify for home heating assistance," Ryan said. "With natural gas prices at record-levels, it is important that we offer assistance to those who need it most - low-income families and seniors on fixed incomes."

The higher eligibility level means that more than 142,000 new households in the state will be eligible for LIHEAP assistance. Throughout the winter, Governor Ryan has worked with the Illinois Congressional delegation to secure additional federal LIHEAP funds for Illinois, and twice directed the Department of Commerce and Community Affairs (DCCA) to increase benefit levels.

Under the new eligibility guidelines, a family of one can have a monthly income of no more than $1,044, compared to $870 under the existing guidelines; a two person household no more than $1,406, compared to $1,172; and a family of four an income no greater than $2,130, compared to $1,776. Benefits are provided directly to the household's gas or electric utility or delivered fuel dealer for households that heat with fuel oil or propane.

It's estimated that close to 350,000 households will be served by LIHEAP this winter

"In the next couple of weeks, DCCA will be holding regional meetings across the state to inform the public about the level of LIHEAP benefits that are available and how people can sign up for the program," added DCCA Director Pam McDonough, who's agency administers Illinois' LIHEAP program. "Because of the Governor's successful efforts to secure additional federal money for the program, we have more than $175 million of LIHEAP funds to work with this winter, compared to about $112 million last winter."

LIHEAP is operated throughout the state by a network of local agencies that work with utilities, determine eligibility and provide benefits to households. Anyone wishing to apply should contact the local agency in the county where they live. Additional assistance is available by calling the toll-free LIHEAP information line at 1-800-252-8643.

The public meetings on LIHEAP are scheduled as follows:

Rockford, Illinois
JANUARY 16, 2001
6:30 p.m. To 8:00 p.m.
State of Illinois Regional Building
Auditorium, Lower Level
200 S. Wyman

Waukegan, Illinois
JANUARY 17, 2001
6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Waukegan Public Library
128 N. County Street

Chicago Ridge, IL
JANUARY 18, 2001
6:30 p.m to 8:00 p.m.
Village of Chicago Ridge
Municipal Center
10455 S. Ridgeland Ave.

Chicago, Illinois
JANUARY 19, 2001
10 a.m. to 12:00 noon
State Of Illinois Building JRTC
16th floor conference room
100 W. Randolph

Carterville, Illinois
JANUARY 22, 2001
6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
John Logan Community College
Bldg. G. first floor Room C-138
700 Logan College Road

Decatur, Illinois
JANUARY 23, 2001
6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Decatur Civic Center
1 Gary K. Anderson Plaza
City Council Chambers, 3rd floor



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