Keeping Maine Families Warm This Winter

As the cold Maine winter approaches, many families are worried about being able to afford the high costs of heating their homes.

With inflation driving prices up across the board, heating oil and other fuels are more expensive than ever. Fortunately, there are resources available to help Mainers in need heat their homes and stay warm this winter. 

The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), run by the Maine State Housing Authority, provides financial assistance for heating costs to low-income renters and homeowners.

LIHEAP helps pay for fuel oil, natural gas, electricity, wood, and other heating sources. The funds are primarily used to pay winter heating bills for those who qualify through the state's Community Action Programs. 

To be eligible, your household income must be below 60% of the state median income level. You can apply through your local Community Action Agency office.

Benefits are paid directly to the fuel vendor or utility company. On average, LIHEAP provides about $500 per household but can pay up to $900 depending on income level, family size, fuel type and other factors. 

In addition to standard heating assistance, LIHEAP offers an Emergency Crisis Intervention Program for those in immediate danger of running out of fuel. It provides emergency fuel deliveries and heating system repairs for eligible households.

With inflation and supply chain issues causing energy prices to spike, LIHEAP funds are being stretched thin this winter. MaineHousing is encouraging people to apply early before funds run out. The best time to apply is in the fall. The program accepts applications through early spring but benefits are paid on a first-come, first-served basis.

Along with LIHEAP, some utility companies like Versant Power offer assistance programs for low-income customers. These can help supplement LIHEAP funds. Local nonprofits like community action agencies also have limited emergency heating funds in some areas. 

Staying warm shouldn't be a luxury.

Programs like LIHEAP help Maine families get through the winter without having to choose between heating their homes or other basic needs. Checking eligibility and applying early are key to getting help. With some planning and assistance, we can make sure all Mainers are safe, warm and secure this winter.

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