SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WMBD) — Families struggling to pay their energy bills will be able to apply for assistance starting Thursday through the Help Illinois Families Program, Gov. JB Pritzker announced Wednesday.

Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) are encouraging families to apply for their piece of the $300 million recently allocated for energy bill assistance through the Help Illinois Families program.

All families who meet the criteria and provide the required documentation will be eligible to receive assistance for natural gas, propane, and electricity bills through the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance program, or LIHEAP.

Beginning Sept. 1, 2022, families can apply by visiting helpillinoisfamilies.com or by visiting their local agency (a list of partners throughout the State can be found here). Families can also call 1-833-711-0374 for assistance in 30 languages.

“Every Illinoisan deserves access to reliable energy—regardless of their economic status,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “Thanks to LIHEAP, we are making natural gas, propane, and electricity assistance accessible for our state’s family that are feeling the squeeze from rising costs of living. My administration has always been—and will always be—committed to making sure that every resident has access to the services they need to keep the lights on.”

Illinois families who earn up to two times the poverty level qualify for assistance. The chart below shows the eligible income thresholds, which can also be found on the Help Illinois Families website.

The amount of support will vary based on the needs of the applicants, but 2021 recipients received an average of $1,330 per household.

DCEO Director Sylvia I. Garcia encouraged families to call the hotline at 1-833-711-0374 if they think they might be eligible for the program.

In addition to LIHEAP support for energy bill payments, other assistance programs for low-income Illinois families include:

  • Crisis/Reconnection Assistance: Funding is available for families in heating-related emergency situations.
  • Furnace Assistance: Based on funding availability, Furnace Assistance may be provided to households that do not have an operating furnace for their residence.
  • Home Weatherization Program: The Illinois Home Weatherization Assistance Program (IHWAP) helps low income residents and households conserve fuel and reduce energy costs by making their homes and apartments more energy efficient.
  • Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program: The Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP) provides eligible households with a benefit of up to $400 for water and wastewater services based on poverty level. Households facing the threat of imminent disconnection, or those that have already been disconnected, may be eligible for a benefit of up to $1,500. The application for LIHWAP is open through Sept. 30, 2023, pending funding availability.

Families can learn more and apply by visiting the Help Illinois Families website or by visiting their local agency. Families can also call 1-833-711-0374 for assistance in 30 languages.