In an effort to provide relief to residents facing high energy bills in the wake of the recent heat wave, Governor Pat Quinn today announced that applications will be accepted for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) beginning July 11. Through LIHEAP, utility bill payments are made on behalf of households with incomes of up to 150 percent of the federal poverty level.
"Temperatures have already reached dangerous levels across the state, and keeping people safe during the heat is my priority," Governor Quinn said. "We must do everything we can to ensure Illinois' most vulnerable citizens can remain healthy, safe and cool this summer."
The LIHEAP summer cooling program will run from July 11 through July 27, or until funds are exhausted. A total of $10 million in federal funding is available for the program. Households that are responsible for their own electric bills will be eligible only under the following criteria: household income over the last 30 days does not exceed 150 percent of the federal poverty standard threshold; and the household includes a person at least 60 years of age, a child under 60 months of age, and a person with a disability or an individual with a documented medical condition aggravated by excessive heat. In addition, current customers under the electric Percentage of Income Payment Plan (PIPP) are ineligible for cooling assistance.
"Through the LIHEAP program, we have helped more than 378,000 Illinois families to live more comfortably and safely in their homes, while helping reduce burdensome energy bills for those who need it most," said Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity Acting Director David Vaught.
People can apply for LIHEAP assistance by visiting their local administrating agency, but are encouraged to call ahead, as long lines should be expected. A complete listing of LIHEAP's local administrating agencies and additional information about the program are available at www.liheapillinois.com, or by calling the toll-free "Keep Cool Illinois" hotline at 877-411-9276 between 8 a.m. -- 6 p.m. Monday through Friday or 8 a.m. -- 4 p.m. on Saturday.
Seniors are among the most vulnerable to extreme heat. With temperatures remaining high, Governor Quinn urged seniors and families with small children to take special measures to stay safe. The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) advises residents to stay hydrated; avoid going outdoors during extreme heat; avoid or minimize physical exertion; keep window shades drawn; wear loose cotton clothing; and avoid eating heavy meals and cooking with ovens. People taking medications should check with their pharmacist or doctor to find out about any heat-related side effects.
Governor Quinn also urged Illinoisans to take advantage of more than 120 state facilities that serve as cooling centers. The cooling centers provide a place to stay cool and comfortable during the scorching hot days of summer. The centers are located at Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) offices throughout the state and the seven Illinois Tollway Oases in Northern Illinois. They will be open to the public during regular business hours.
More information on the state's cooling centers is available by calling the IDHS toll-free hotline (800-843-6154), or search by zip code for the nearest cooling center at keepcool.illinois.gov.