Montpelier, Vt. – Governor Phil Scott and the Department for Children and Families (DCF) announced today the release of $20 million in Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funding for households that heat with fuel oil, propane, kerosene, coal, electricity, and natural gas.
“We know many are feeling the burden of high inflation that is impacting the entire country, and the rise in home heating costs is a significant challenge,” said Governor Scott. “LIHEAP is an important benefit that helps vulnerable families, and I thank our congressional delegation, in particular Senator Leahy, for his work to secure additional LIHEAP funding this year. In Montpelier, we must work tirelessly to keep costs down for Vermont families.”
The benefit was sent directly to fuel dealers on behalf of 14,741 households and averaged $1,375 per household. Earlier this year, benefits were issued to 2,134 households that heat with wood and pellets. This funding helps keep thousands of Vermonters warm during the winter months.
To date, the state has seen a 7% increase in the number of households applying for a seasonal fuel benefit this year as well volatile fuel prices. This year, fuel prices are expected to average about $4.81 per gallon, compared to $2.57 per gallon in FY19. To help mitigate the impact of this increased pressure, the increase in federal funding and an additional $5.8 million in state dollars, through LIHEAP and other programs, will be used to keep the benefit similar to previous years.
Households are encouraged to visit the DCF website or contact the Benefit Service Center at 1-800-479-6151 to apply.
Interim DCF Commissioner Harry Chen said: “We know with the increase in fuel prices, coupled with inflation elsewhere, Vermonters are worried for winter. The LIHEAP benefit has always supplemented heating budgets, and we’re pleased to take some additional steps this year at the state and federal level to help keep benefits similar to previous years, despite the increase fuel costs. I encourage any Vermonter who believes they may be eligible for the benefit, to call our phone line.”
- Households may be eligible for Seasonal Fuel Assistance if their gross household incomes are equal to or less than 185% of the federal poverty level. For example, a family of four with a gross monthly income up to $4,279 may qualify for the benefit.
- Households may be eligible for Crisis Fuel Assistance if their gross household incomes are equal to or less than 200% of the federal poverty level and they are experiencing a crisis. For example, a family of four with a gross monthly income up to $4,626 may qualify for the benefit.