Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Wilmington is taking applications for Delaware households to qualify for a benefit from Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP.

This federally-funded program assists low-income households with heating bills through direct payments to home energy suppliers. Catholic Charities is the statewide administrator for LIHEAP in Delaware.

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. To qualify for the Summer Cooling Program, households must be approved for the Fuel Assistance Heating Program.

Households may qualify for assistance if their total income falls within eligibility guidelines. For example, a household of four can have no more than $50,325 in annual household income before taxes. To apply, make an appointment with a Catholic Charities office for a personal interview. Applications are accepted from July through March.

Call the 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.

If a household is eligible for LIHEAP, it may also qualify for other programs that require LIHEAP eligibility. For example, if a home is not as energy efficient as it could be, the household may qualify for home weatherization improvements through the Delaware Weatherization Assistance Program. Catholic Charities administers the Weatherization Assistance Program in Kent and Sussex counties.

When a client comes to their appointment, they should bring the following information to more quickly move the application forward: social security cards for all members 6 months of age and older; proof of U.S. citizenship, 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 homeownership; and three months of income documentation for adults in the household.

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