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Illinois pumps more money into utilities assistance program, here's how you can apply

Gov. Pritzker announced Monday an increase in funding to LIHEAP, a program that provides residents assistance with costs of utilities.

PEORIA, Ill. — Gov. J. B. Pritzker announced Monday an over-$50 million increase in funding to utility assistance programs for low-income families in Illinois.

"We're offering residents in need more access than ever before to vital safety net programs that can help prevent them from falling behind on payments, falling into debt or risking their ability to get back to work," Pritzker said.

The Community Development Block Grant Program offers assistance with rent, utilities, food and other household expenses. The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), managed in Illinois by the state Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity's Office of Community Assistance, offers energy cost assistance to low-income families. 

 A $327 million investment in the program - $52 million more than last year - will allow the state to raise the average credit to individual households from $740 last year to $1,000 this year. The funding came in part from federal COVID-19-relief funds and action by the Illinois General Assembly. According to Pritzker, approximately 3.5 million Illinoisans will now be eligible for the utility assistance. 

From rent and utilities to food and water, residents - regardless of immigration status - can access local agencies for assistance. Anyone seeking emergency relief can visit Help Illinois Families to determine eligibility to access these benefits. 

To date, according to Pritzker, over 23,000 applications were received. Applications will be accepted until May 22.

The Percentage of Income Payment Plan (PIPP) is also available for LIHEAP-eligible households who are customers of Ameren Illinois, ComEd, Nicor Gas or Peoples Gas/North Shore Gas. Under the plan, households pay a percentage of their income, receive a monthly benefit towards utility bills and arrearage reductions for every one-time payment made.

PIPP applications will be accepted until March 31, or until funding is exhausted.

View the full news conference here:

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