BROOKLINE, April 4, 2011 – State Senator Wayne D. Fontana today announced that the deadline to apply for the state’s Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) has been extended to April 15.

“It has been a long and difficult winter for many families struggling through the tough economic times,” Fontana said. “LIHEAP can help many people keep their heat on and make ends meet.

“With monies still available, I am glad they were able to extend the application deadline to help more people.”

LIHEAP provides home heating energy grants and crisis grants through the Department of Public Welfare to help low-income families pay their heating bills. The original deadline was March 31. Fontana said eligibility for the program is based on household size, type of fuel, and income. Both homeowners and renters are eligible for the program, regardless of how they heat their residences.

Eligibility requirements have recently been expanded to Pennsylvanians earning up to $35,280 for a family of four (an increase from 150 percent to approximately 160 percent of the federal poverty level). Under the new guidelines, nearly 533,376 Pennsylvanians are eligible to receive assistance through LIHEAP.

Fontana said grants have been increased as well. The minimum cash grant has been increased to $300 with a maximum of $1,000 annually. Crisis grants, for those in danger of being without heat due to broken equipment, lack of fuel or termination of service, have a maximum benefit amount of $400. A supplemental payment of $100 is issued to vulnerable households that are home to elderly, disabled or those with a child under 5 years old.

LIHEAP applications are available at Senator Fontana’s local offices or by calling toll-free at 1-866-857-7095. For more information on LIHEAP, as well as eligibility requirements and an online application, visit http://www.dpw.state.pa.us/foradults/heatingassistanceliheap.

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