Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman announced recently that Minnesota will receive an additional $29.2 million in federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funds for the Minnesota Energy Assistance Program (EAP). That brings the state’s total federal allocation this winter season to $116.8 million.
“We have already been able to help more than 116,000 Minnesota families with energy assistance this winter, and this added funding will enable us to help thousands of families still on the waiting list,” said Commissioner Rothman. “These additional funds come at a crucial time for low-income families who are struggling to pay their heating bills as we head into the coldest part of winter.”
EAP helps low-income households pay their heating bills through grant money paid directly to the utility company on behalf of the customer. The Minnesota Department of Commerce allocates these funds to 36 local service providers who work with households to distribute assistance.
Last year, Minnesota served 172,065 households with $152 million in federal funds. With the $116.8 million Minnesota has received this year – taking into account adjustments made to average household assistance – the Commerce Department estimates it will serve roughly 190,000 Minnesota households this winter.
This year the average grant per household is about $400. Customers with 50 percent or less of the state median income ($43,050 for a family of four) may qualify. Households with seniors, people with disabilities, and families with children are especially encouraged to apply. The average household income of families enrolled in the program is around $16,000 per year.
“Many Minnesota families are barely managing in this challenging economy. EAP can help these families – particularly senior citizens, families with young children, and disabled Minnesotans – avoid the difficult choice between buying food and medicine, or paying their heating bill,” said Rothman.
Commissioner Rothman strongly encourages Minnesotans who need help to apply for assistance as soon as possible. Qualifying families must apply for assistance at the local service provider in their area. Funding is limited and is administered on a first-come-first-serve basis.
A list of local service providers and more information about the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program can be found at www.staywarm.mn.gov by clicking on “Finding Financial Assistance” or by calling 651-296-5175 or toll free in Minnesota 1-800-657-3710.