CHICAGO – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today announced a $1 million federal grant to help Illinois’ most at-risk families stay connected to their energy service throughout the year.
The Residential Energy Assistance Challenge Option Program (REACH) grant will provide intensive case management, budget counseling, and energy education to families who are at the greatest risk of disconnection. Illinois is one of only four states to receive the REACH grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services this year.
“For so many families in Illinois, LI HEAP heating assistance in the winter and cooling assistance in the summer are essential to their health and safety,” said Gov. Blagojevich. “But when that assistance runs out at the end the season, some of our most at-risk families become disconnected again. That can mean that a family is without gas to cook their dinner or lights in their home. Here in Illinois, we want to break that cycle of disconnection. This grant will help those families who are at the greatest risk of being disconnected from their energy service stay connected throughout the year – keeping homes safer and families healthier.”
The REACH project will target those Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LI HEAP) beneficiaries that have the highest risk of payment failure – especially those with incomes between 0% and 100% of the poverty level. Households receiving a LI HEAP grant in the fall or winter are often disconnected again at the end of the season due to nonpayment or inconsistent payment – leaving many homes without any energy service until LI HEAP assistance becomes available again. The REACH project will provide a variety of intensive education and case management services to help LI HEAP participants stay connected throughout the year, including budget counseling, referral to other income support services, energy education and weatherization services, and encouragement to promote regular utility bill paying.
The REACH project will be administered by the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services, and will operate in Cook, Calhoun, Greene, Jersey and Couping Counties.