The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) helps low income households pay for utilities such as gas, electric, water, and sewer.
When you qualify for LIHEAP, the program:
- Limits when you may be charged a deposit;
- Lowers the maximum deposit down payment and gives you more time to pay if you do have to pay a deposit;
- Eliminates late payment fees;
- Reduces the maximum required down payment amount for payment arrangements; and
- Increase the minimum number of months for payment arrangements.
The LIHEAP administrator will let your gas or electric company know that you qualify as a low income customer. You will need to notify your public utility water and sewer company of your low income customer qualification.
Learn more about LIHEAP at the Office of Community Services.
Types of LIHEAP assistance
One time payments are given to households who qualify. Funds are limited and payments are given on a first-come, first-served basis. The LIHEAP program offers 3 kinds of assistance to income eligible households:
- Direct Vendor Payment (DVP): Households that pay for their own utilities such as gas, electricity, liquid propane, and oil can get assistance in the form of a one time payment to the utility company. If utilities are included in your rent, the rent must be more than 30% of the total household income.
- Emergency Services (ES): Emergency Services payments are provided in the event of a weather related natural disaster or when there is an extreme weather condition. ES are only provided to the extent that funds are available. The amount of the ES payment usually will be the minimum requirement to reconnect the household. An applicant may only receive an ES grant once during a program year for a particular utility.
- Percentage of Income Payment Plan (PIPP): Clients of Ameren Illinois, ComEd, Nicor Gas and Peoples Gas/North Shore Gas can pay a percentage of their income, receive a monthly benefit toward their utility bill, and receive a reduction in overdue payments of every on-time payment they make by the due date. Please note: PIPP has stopped taking applications as of September 30th, 2016.
- Reconnection Assistance (RA): Assistance for utilities that have been disconnected or are about to be disconnected. Households must have made an effort to maintain their energy services or can pay a portion of their reconnection assistance.
- Furnace Assistance (FA): Households that qualify for reconnection assistance but don't have a working furnace can receive assistance in tuning-up, repairing, or replacing the heat source.