Program offers bill relief

By Tyler Vincent

With cold weather just around the corner and the economy falling on potentially hard times, some residents of DeKalb and Kane Counties will be in need of assistance in paying winter energy bills.

Hoping to assist these residents is the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), a program that is sponsored by Community Contacts, Inc., based in Geneva. Lynne McLaughlin, the Energy Assistance Coordinator for Community Contacts, said that she has noticed an increase in applications since last year. The program has recieved approximately 5,900 applications from both DeKalb and Kane County residents.

The money that LIHEAP gives to residents is designed to help them pay for both heating and energy bills.

“We’ve noticed that more families are coming in who are on unemployment. It’s across the board,” McLaughlin said, adding that since the application process for the elderly and disabled began in September, and for residents beginning on Nov. 1, it is too early to tell exactly how much of an increase there is.

Eligibility for the program is determined by the total gross income of the household for the previous 30 days. The minimum income is set by state legislators. This year, for a one person house, the minimum income is $1,074, a two- person house has a minimum of $1,451 and for three people, it’s $1,828.

LIHEAP’s budget has gone down from $2.8 million last year to about $2.25 million, which could be a reflection of how much money is in the nation’s capital right now, McLaughlin said.

LIHEAP is designed to help income-eligible households with a grant to help meet winter energy costs and is open to both homeowners and renters. It operates in both DeKalb and Kane Counties and is administered throughout Illinois by the Department of Commerce and Community Affairs. It is a not-for-profit operation that receives both state and federal funding.