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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 12, 2007

Governor Blagojevich reminds seniors and residents with disabilities about winter heating assistance grants
Priority households advised to apply now before extreme cold hits Illinois; To apply visit www.liheapillinois.com or call 1-877-411-WARM

CHICAGO – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today reminded seniors and residents with disabilities that winter heating grants are available through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), and will be available to all income-eligible households November 1.  The winter heating program is expected to serve 300,000 households this winter with an estimated $150 million in state and federal funding.   To apply, call 1-877-411-WARM or visit: www.liheapillinois.com.
 
“Cooler temperatures remind us that winter is just around the corner.  And winter weather means higher energy bills,” said Gov. Blagojevich.  “We need to make sure that low-income seniors and people with disabilities aren’t forced to choose between paying for medications and food or paying their electricity bills.  I urge all seniors and at-risk families who are eligible for LIHEAP to apply now so they can be warm and safe in the months ahead.”
 
Through LIHEAP, a state- and federally-funded energy assistance program run by the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS), heating bill payments are made on behalf of 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 $1,276, a two-person household up to $1,711, and a family of four can earn up to $2,581.  Benefits are paid directly to the household’s appropriate utility.
 
“The LIHEAP program benefits families and seniors across Illinois,” said Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services Director Barry Maram.  “We urge eligible households to apply for energy assistance now, so they can be sure to stay warm and safe in the winter.”
 
LIHEAP energy grant applications are processed through a network of 35 Community Action Agencies around the state.  These agencies started accepting applications on a first-come, first-served basis from the elderly, disabled persons, and other priority households on September 1.  The Community Action Agencies will start accepting applications from all income-eligible households on November 1, 2007. 
 
LIHEAP’s Community Action Agencies have been working hard the past month and a half to ensure that all eligible seniors and residents with disabilities have applied for the energy assistance.  With only a few weeks until open enrollment begins for all other income-eligible households, the local agencies are continuing to urge seniors and persons with disabilities to apply for a grant.
 
This summer approximately 56,000 households received assistance statewide from the Summer Cooling program though LIHEAP.  Under Gov. Blagojevich’s direction, HFS provided a total of $8.4 million in direct assistance to families. The total number served far exceeded the initial estimate of 40,000 applicants, which indicates that the 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 Community Action Agencies and LIHEAP staff combined to make the program a great success.
 
For a complete listing of LIHEAP’s Community Action Agencies and additional information about the grant program, go to www.liheapillinois.com, or call the toll-free Keep Warm information line at 1-877-411-WARM.


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