LIHEAP Enrollment Starts Tomorrow

By: Meghan Dwyer
By: Meghan Dwyer

UPDATE: Due to heavy call volume, all appointments for LiHEAP applications at Lifescape Community Services have been filled. Today was the first day to make application for the state funded heating and cooling assistance.

Program Services Director Cheryl Davis says the next available time to call Lifescape for an appointment will be September 27th.

UPDATE: The low income home energy assistance program or LIHEAP will start taking applications from the elderly and people with disabilities tomorrow.

If there's still money in the budget, families with children under five can apply starting October 1 and anyone else in need can put in their application in November

ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- You might think it's still a little too hot out to worry about heating bills, but the cold weather will be here soon enough.

This year Rockford residents might have a harder time keeping warm.

“I love my garden. I eat everything from the garden," Selma Suchobrus said.

She moved to Rockford more than fifty years ago from Germany. Since her husband died she's had a hard time keeping up with her bills.

She said, "I’m alone now and the income it's very little. It’s just not enough."

Thanks to a federal program called LIHEAP she's been able to keep her house.

"Before, I just couldn't make it anymore,” she said.

For the past two years LIHEAP has helped pay her energy bills, which helped her afford her mortgage payments. In Rockford LIHEAP helps pay heating bills for over ten thousand households.

This year the federal government cut Illinois' funding by half; because she's a senior Suchobrus probably won't lose her benefits, but many others will.

Rockford Human Services Energy Specialist Martha Strawser said, "We have a huge population in Rockford that is low income and they have a hard time paying their heating bills."

Strawser fears people will have an even harder time this year because there's just not enough money to go around.

She said, “it is unfortunate that we are seeing more and more people on the unemployment rolls in Rockford that are seeking our help for the very first time and then to find out that we might not be able to help them."

Seniors, disabled individuals, and families with children are the first to be helped. Everyone else can apply for assistance starting Nov. 1.

The program is supposed to help people pay their energy bills through the end of May. Last year when there was a lot more money available funds still ran out a month early. Because this program is first come, first serve, people are encouraged to contact the department of human services as soon as possible.

The good news is that for the first time LIHEAP will be helping people who get their heat from ComED or Nicor actually pay off overdue bills faster. People can pay a percentage of their income and then receive a reduction in the amount they actually owe.

More Information:

SPRINGFIELD (IDCEO) -- The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity's Office of Energy Assistance today announced that seniors and people with disabilities can begin applying for winter heating assistance through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) beginning Sept. 1.

For the first time, some LIHEAP clients will have the option of choosing between the traditional Direct Vendor Payment (DVP) plan or the new Percentage of Income Payment Plan (PIPP). The PIPP is available to eligible LIHEAP clients who are customers of Ameren Illinois, ComEd, Nicor Gas and Peoples Gas/North Shore Gas. Under PIPP, the eligible client will pay a percentage of their income, receive a monthly benefit towards their utility bill, and receive a reduction in overdue payments for every on-time payment they make by the bill due date. The traditional DVP plan is a one-time payment.

Due to the start-up of PIPP, LIHEAP clients may experience longer wait times when applying for assistance, but should ultimately receive better service delivery. Clients must bring all required documentation when applying for assistance including:

-Proof of gross income from all household members for the 30-day period prior to the application date.
-A copy of their current heat and electric bills issued within the last 30 days (if they pay for their energy directly).
-A copy of their rental agreement (if they are renting) showing that utilities are included, the monthly rental amount and landlord contact information.
-Proof of Social Security numbers for all household members.
-Proof that their household received TANF or other benefits, such as Medical Eligibility or SNAP, if receiving assistance from the Illinois Department of Human Services.

LIHEAP is a state and federally funded energy assistance program for low income families, in which heating bill payments are made on behalf of households.

A single-person household can qualify with a monthly income of up to $1,361; a two-person household up to $1,839; a family of three can earn up to $2,316; and a family of four can earn up to $2,794. Benefits are paid directly to utilities on behalf of eligible households. The exception is households whose heating costs are included in their rent.

LIHEAP applications are processed through a network of 35 local administering agencies around the state. These agencies will begin accepting applications on a first-come, first served basis from the elderly and people with disabilities on Sept. 1.

Households with children under the age of five can begin applying for LIHEAP assistance beginning Oct. 1. Individuals not eligible for priority enrollment can apply beginning Nov. 1.

Customers will be served on a first-come first-served basis until funding is exhausted.

For a complete listing of LIHEAP’s local administering agencies and additional information about the program, go to, or call the toll-free hotline at 1 877 411-WARM.

2011 LIHEAP sites for seniors and disabled
Lifescape Community Services
705 Kilburn Ave., Rockford
815-963-1609 Disabled that are head of household and Seniors
English and Spanish Available
Northwestern Illinois Area Agency
on Aging (NIAAA)
1111 S. Alpine Rd. Suite 600, Rockford
Seniors only
English and Spanish Available
Rep. Chuck Jefferson’s Office
200 S. Wyman St., Rockford
Seniors and Disabled
English Only
Rockton Township
1315 N. Blackhawk Blvd., Rockton
815-389-0914 815-624-7788
Seniors and Disabled
English; Spanish speaking residents will be accommodated
Roscoe, Rockton, S. Beloit Residents Only
Boone County Council on Aging
2141 Henry Luckow Lane, Belvidere
Seniors Only
English and Spanish Available
Boone County Residents Only
United Way of Boone County
220 W. Locust St., Belvidere
815-544-3144 Disabled
English only
Boone County Residents Only
130 N. State St., Belvidere
English and Spanish Available
Boone County Residents Only

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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by Brv Location: rockford on Sep 1, 2011 at 01:12 PM
    the program is great, but its just like a lottery drawing. i started calling at 7.00 in the morning 3 differant numbers they were all busy then by 930 /1000 i got a person finally and all book up. so now chuck jefferson dont start again til next week and lifescape not to sept. 27th so i have a feeling its gonna be the same thing.. so wish me luck. there must be a better way they do things. im beyond mad
  • by Margie Location: Rockford on Sep 1, 2011 at 07:09 AM
    Mistake...Just talked to Chuck Jefferson's office...Program is not set up yet!!!! They don't know why this got released????? Maybe the end of next week.................
  • by Ron Location: Rockford on Aug 29, 2011 at 06:29 PM
    Nice that the elderly and disabled can apply first,however how un-nice to make the application places be in what most would consider unfriendly to the elderly and disabled, such as having to park downtown, find a parking space-having to walk, or in the other locations, uumm where's that at? The elderly and disabled would be grateful for a more user friendly application sites, all with a parking lot with disabled parking spaces readily available and an easy location that all would know.
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