The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, administered in Delaware by Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Wilmington, will begin taking applications July 5 for the upcoming heating season.

This federally-funded program assists low-income Delawareans with heating bills through direct payments to home energy suppliers. The LIHEAP benefit is based on a household’s income, size and type of fuel.

LIHEAP offers the following supports to eligible households:

— The Fuel Assistance Program, providing home heating assistance for low income families who need help paying winter energy bills. LIHEAP does not pay for all heating costs. Eligible households receive one annual benefit.

— The Energy Crisis Intervention Program, making help available to eligible households in an emergency situation. This supplemental benefit can be in addition to the regular fuel assistance benefit.

— The Summer Cooling/Electric Assistance Program, helping low-income families by paying a portion of summer electric bills. Eligible households receive one annual benefit. The Program operates from June 1 through Aug. 31 if funds are available. In order to qualify for the Summer Cooling Program, households must be approved for the Fuel Assistance Heating Program.

Households may be eligible for assistance if total household income falls within income eligibility guidelines. For example, a household of four can have no more than $49,322 in annual household income — before taxes. To qualify, one must make an appointment with a Catholic Charities office for a personal interview. The application process runs from July to March.

Those interested should call their local Catholic Charities office to get an appointment. Regular office hours are 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. In Kent County, call 674-1782; in New Castle County, call 654-9295; in Sussex County, call 856-6310.

Households eligible for LIHEAP, may also qualify for other programs that require LIHEAP eligibility. For example, they may qualify for home weatherization improvements through the Delaware Weatherization Assistance Program, also administered by Catholic Charities.

When coming for an appointment, applicants are encouraged to bring the following information with them:

— Social Security cards for all household members 6 months of age and over

— Proof of U.S. Citizenship, i.e. U.S. birth certificates/naturalization papers

— Proof of qualified alien status

— Photo ID with proof of current address

— Copy of utility bill

— Lease if renter, or proof of home ownership

— Three months of income documentation for all adults in the household

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