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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 1, 2006

Gov. Blagojevich opens enrollment for LIHEAP winter heating assistance program
Home heating bills expected to be higher, at-risk households Urged to Take Steps Before Winter Heating Season To apply visit: www.liheapillinois.com or call 1-877-411-WARM

CHICAGO – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich announced that starting today, at-risk households and those currently without home heating due to service disconnections can apply for one-time grants through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) to meet their winter heating needs. To apply, call 1-877-411-WARM or visit: www.liheapillinois.com.

"The cooler weather in recent days is a reminder that winter is around the corner. And here in Illinois that can mean extremely cold and dangerous temperatures. Through LIHEAP, we can help make sure seniors and at-risk families have heat in their homes and will be safe during the winter months," said Governor Blagojevich.

The Energy Information Administration, which releases official energy statistics from the U.S. Government, stated earlier this month that, "average heating oil prices will be about 16 percent higher this winter compared to last winter." Through LIHEAP, run by the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS), heating bill payments will be made on behalf of seniors, the disabled, and those currently without home heating during the priority period.

"We urge the most at-risk households to apply for energy assistance as soon applications become available," said Barry Maram, Director of the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS). "Grant applications will be available across the state and can make a huge difference for families this winter."

LIHEAP is a state-and federally-funded energy assistance program that assists households with incomes of up to 150 percent of the federal poverty level. A single-person household can qualify with

a monthly income of up to $1,225, a two-person household up to $1,650, and a family of four can earn up to $2,500. Benefits will be paid directly to the household’s appropriate utility.

The energy grant applications will be processed through a network of 35 Local Administering Agencies around the state. These agencies will accept applications on a first-come, first-serve basis from eligible households beginning September 1 until funding for the winter heating program is exhausted. The Local Administering Agencies will start accepting applications from all income-eligible households on November 1, 2005. The winter heating program is expected to reach 300,000 households this winter with an estimated $150 million in state and federal funding.

This summer approximately 47,000 households received assistance statewide from the Summer Cooling program though LIHEAP. Under Governor Blagojevich’s direction, HFS provided a total of $8,503,187 in direct assistance to families. The total number served far exceeded the initial estimate of 40,000 applicants, which indicates that the LIHEAP Summer Cooling Program was a timely response to the needs of the most vulnerable segments of the population: the elderly, disabled, and households with children. The coordinated outreach efforts by the Local Administering Agencies and LIHEAP staff combined to make the program a great success.

LIHEAP serves as many households as possible while giving priority to households with the greatest energy burden and households whose health and safety is threatened. For a complete listing of LIHEAP’s local administrating agencies and additional information about the grant program, go to www.liheapillinois.com, or call the toll-free LIHEAP information line at 1-877-411-WARM.



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