Heating Assistance Available for Wisconsin’s Families
From State Rep. Ann Hraychuck
That time of year is upon us where the leaves have dropped and frost is covering our windows, making that commute to work just a bit longer since you have to scrape your windshield clean. This also means that the temperature is dropping and our furnaces are starting to fire up.
Considering these tough economic times when a record-setting number of Wisconsinites are unemployed and struggling to make ends meet, the costs of their utility bills may simply be too much to bear. If you cannot afford your basic heating bill, do not be afraid, there is help available.
The Wisconsin Home Energy Assistance Program (WHEAP) administers the federally funded Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and Public Benefits Energy Assistance Program. LIHEAP and its related services help over 100,000 Wisconsin households annually by providing regular heating and electric assistance, emergency fuel assistance, counseling for energy conservation and energy budgets, proactive co-payment plans, targeted outreach services, and emergency furnace repair and replacement.
Starting with the 2009 heating season, the eligibility requirements for WHEAP have changed. Income-qualification is now based on 60 percent of state median income level over a three-month period. For limited-income families in Wisconsin, this change in income eligibility means that families are allowed to claim as much as 35 percent more income, without jeopardizing the chance to qualify for assistance. For more information on WHEAP, I encourage you to call 1-866-HEATWIS (432-8947).
Another option available for individuals interested in heating assistance is the Keep Wisconsin Warm Fund (KWWF). KWWF is a statewide, non-profit, public-private partnership that keeps the heat and power on for thousands of Wisconsin’s most vulnerable citizens. 95 percent of those helped by KWWF are elderly, disabled or are families with young children. Eligibility for KWWF is based on a household’s income that is at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level. To see if you are eligible for KWWF, please visit their website at www.kwwf.org and click on “How to Apply.” You can also reach them with any questions via phone at 1-800-891-WARM (9276).
One of reasons that families in Wisconsin have unaffordable utility bills is that their homes are often not weatherized. Being able to make your home more energy efficient is a great way to cut down on your energy costs. The Focus on Energy Assistance Program assists qualifying residents in making energy efficiency improvements to their homes. The improvements are completed by program consultants at minimal costs to the homeowner and will make your home more comfortable, safe and energy efficient. To find out if you qualify for this program, visit their website at www.focusonenergy.com/Residential/Targeted-Home-Performance.aspx or contact them by phone at 1-800-762-7077.
If you have questions about any of these programs and live in Polk County, I encourage you to contact the Department of Human Services at 715-485-8400. If you live in Burnett County, please call the Department of Health and Human Services at 715-349-7600. If you reside in St. Croix County, contact the Department of Human Services at 715-246-6991.
As always, please feel free to contact my office regarding this or any other state legislative matter. I can be reached toll-free at 1-888-529-0028 or by email at Rep.Hraychuck@legis.wisconsin.gov.