When You Need Help With Bills: Low Income Utility Assistance
The last couple of years have been hard on everyone, but especially those of us who have found ourselves in difficult financial situations. It can be tough to make ends meet in the best of times, and you may have found yourself among the countless Americans forced to make tough choices about which bills to pay. Unfortunately, utility bills are often the first to fall by the wayside when this happens.
If you are facing a financial crisis, there are some services that can help you keep the lights on or even find a new location where the lights may be easier to afford. Read on to discover low-income utility assistance programs that can help you get back on your feet when times get tough.
The Low Income Housing Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is one of the best resources available to individuals and families looking for help paying their utility bills. This program is aimed at keeping people safe and healthy by helping to cover energy costs. As we have seen in states from Texas to Louisiana and beyond, trying to survive harsh weather conditions with no AC or heat can be extremely dangerous and even deadly.
LIHEAP is federally funded and received more than $3.6 billion in 2019. That funding goes to states, which may apply for funds and then distribute them to needy residents. You can find information about the LIHEAP program in your state on the LIHEAP website or by visiting your local library or city hall.
The National Energy Assistance Referral (NEAR) Project is a division of the LIHEAP grant. In essence, this service helps you figure out if you and your family qualify for LIHEAP assistance and, if so, how to apply. In addition, they can help you navigate the sometimes confusing application process and make sure you get the aid you need.
It is important to note that the NEAR Project isn’t a direct aid organization, unlike many other organizations on this list. They do not provide funding to pay your bills, but they provide free aid to get you the help you need. You can call their hotline at 1-866-674-6327 or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Catholic Charities USA is a Christian organization whose mission is to “provide service to people in need, to advocate for justice in social structures, and to call the entire church and other people of goodwill to do the same.” They provide aid for families in a variety of emergencies, including impending evictions. They even help people to navigate the job market and career training to find solid employment.
Catholic Charities can help families in need avoid eviction by providing support for unpaid or overdue bills. This assistance is meant to be short-term, and the group also works with families to make sure they don’t wind up in the same situation again. This includes helping people in need find affordable housing and advocating for positive social policies.
United Way is a nonprofit organization focused on advancing the common good in communities across the world. They work on improving income, health, and education for communities everywhere. Their work includes everything from encouraging kids to stay in school to advancing digital literacy in Ghana.
United Way has a free assistance hotline that you can call by dialing or clicking 211. They can help you find resources to cover your utility bills, as well as ways to tackle other areas of financial strain in your life. Like the NEAR Project, this hotline provides information on how to find help rather than direct assistance.
Healthcare Hospitality Network
Medical problems can be devastating and are the leading cause of bankruptcy in the United States. And while hospital bills are exorbitant, the worst blows may come from outside the healthcare system. Rent, mortgages, and utility bills don’t stop when you’re sick, even when you have to travel far from home to get the treatments you need.
The Healthcare Hospitality Network, Inc. is a network of more than 200 nonprofit organizations across the country. These groups provide lodging assistance to patients and their loved ones while receiving medical treatment far from home. In addition, they can help to alleviate some of the financial burdens that make it difficult to cover those expenses.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development is a federal program designed to help families meet all housing needs. They can provide everything from rental assistance to public housing. They also work to create equitable housing that keeps people in fair and dignified living situations.
Your local HUD department can help you pay for your utility bills through a variety of methods. Primarily, they can help you find more affordable housing that will make it easier to cover your bills with your available resources. Talk to your local HUD office to see what sort of support is available in your area.
Benefits.gov is the online portal that gives you access to all government benefits you may be eligible for. This site covers everything from agriculture and sustainability to immigration and refugee assistance. Housing and public utilities are, of course, a critical part of this.
Benefits.gov has a catalog of every organization that could help you to cover these expenses.
Many of the benefit programs listed on the Benefits.gov site are state-specific, and you can filter results to show only programs in your home state. You can even find benefits covering citizens of American Samoa, the Federated States of Micronesia, and more. You can also look for other programs that may help to ease your financial burdens and make your resources go further.
The Salvation Army is a charitable organization that works on a variety of initiatives, including reducing homelessness. You may be familiar with their holiday fundraising program that stations volunteers outside stores with bells and red collecting tins. Much of that money goes to helping people stay housed and escape poverty.
The Salvation Army can provide short-term assistance when you and your family are in a crisis. The type of aid they lend will vary from location to location, so there is no guarantee the center in your area can assist with utilities. But they may be able to help you cover bills for food or rent so you can dedicate more money towards covering utility costs.
Weatherization Assistance Program
Although they don’t provide direct financial assistance, the weatherization assistance program can be a fantastic option to make your utility bills more affordable. The more inefficient your home is, the more you’ll have to pay for your utility bills. If your house is constantly leaking hot or cold air, your HVAC system will have to work that much harder to keep things at a reasonable temperature.
The Weatherization Assistance Program helps to increase your home’s energy efficiency so you can keep your bills low. In fact, the average household that uses this program saves nearly $300 every year on utility bills. This may include conducting energy audits, adding insulation, and so on.
Basic Ways to Lower Utility Bills
In addition to taking advantage of these programs, you can also take several other measures to keep your utility bills low. First of all, you may be able to do some basic weatherizing on your own for an affordable price: place weather-stripping, towels, or tape around gaps in doors and windows to keep heat from escaping.
Turning your thermostat up ten to fifteen degrees while you’re not home can help to keep your cooling costs down. You may also want to look at setting your refrigerator to stay at 38 degrees and your freezer between 0 and 5 degrees. Taking shorter showers, washing your clothes in cold water, and lowering your water heater temperature to 120 degrees can also save you some money on utility bills.
Find Low Income Utility Assistance
When making ends meet is a challenge, your utility bills may be the first thing to drop off the table. But you don’t have to try to get by without heat or power; the programs we’ve discussed here can give you some short-term assistance in the event of a crisis. You may also be able to get help lowering some of your other bills so you can dedicate more money to keeping the lights on.
Save Money on Your Wireless Phone Service
If you qualify for federal benefits such as SNAP, you also qualify for Lifeline service. Lifeline is a federal benefit program that makes it possible for low-income consumers to receive access to free or heavily discounted communication services. Click here to find out more and apply for this valuable benefit.