$275M in emergency relief for households impacted by COVID-19

Published: Jun. 15, 2020 at 12:21 PM CDT
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Funding for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program and Community Services Block Grant programs will receive $275 million in emergency relief, according to an announcement on Monday afternoon.

Gov. Pritzker made the announcement with the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. This funding includes an additional $90 million allocated via the CARES Act, allowing the state to increase eligibility for these programs to one million income-qualified Illinoisans.

Eligible Illinois residents and families can now apply to receive assistance with food, rent, utilities, temporary shelter, medicine and other essential household services. To learn more about these expanded offerings and to fill out new remote applications made available Monday, visit

“The work to build a state that serves all its people – no matter who they are or what part of Illinois they call home – is more important than ever as we seek to restore our economy while continuing to prioritize our collective health,” Gov. Pritzker said. “This additional funding for our Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program and our Community Services Block Grant program allows us to provide even more support for things like rent, food, temporary shelter, utility bills and other essential services to qualifying low-income households who need emergency assistance. Under this $275 million program, 3.5 million Illinoisans are eligible for hundreds of dollars in relief.”

With the passage of the Illinois 2021 budget, an additional $90 million in federal CARES Act funding will be allocated for community assistance programming, making way for a total $275 million investment that will help families impacted by the crisis, according to the announcement.

The budget also increases the eligibility income threshold up to 200 percent of federal poverty level.

To connect Illinoisans with expanded program offerings, DCEO has launched a new remote application process that will provide applicants the option to begin the intake process online or over the phone with the assistance of a live agent.

The new website and call center will be accessible for all residents – with assistance provided in English and Spanish, and other languages assisted through translation. By eliminating the requirement to apply in person, income-eligible applicants can proceed through the application process from the safety of their own home.

Applicants will be served on a first-come, first-served basis until funding is exhausted. In the coming weeks DCEO will partner with its network of 35 statewide Community Action Agencies to conduct outreach to communities to let them know about the funding available, and to inform them of steps they can take to apply.

Qualifying participants could receive hundreds of dollars in relief support. Last year, the average household qualifying for LIHEAP received $600 in assistance. Expanded eligibility for CSBG takes effect immediately. New LIHEAP eligibility will come online at the end of July, residents can still apply for 2020 programing through June 30.

To expedite application reviews, DCEO will work with CAAs and local agencies to verify income and eligibility documentation. Eligibility will be determined by a number of factors, such as household size and the applicant’s ability to verify documentation.

While Illinois typically pays out community assistance funds in a matter of weeks, turnaround time under the expanded “Help Illinois Families” initiative may be extended due to the volume of applications received, according to the announcement.

Residents who believe they may be eligible are encouraged to visit the website and follow steps to apply immediately. Illinois is reminding applicants of the following documentation required for applying, depending on type of assistance being sought:

— Proof of employment (paystubs) for the head of the household for the last 30 days.

— Copy of current heat and electric bills issued within the last 30 days (if they pay for their energy directly).

— Copy of their rental agreement (if they are renting) showing that utilities are not included, the monthly rental amount and landlord contact information.

— Proof of Social Security numbers for all household members.