Providing funds to help low-income Washington state households maintain affordable, dependable utility services and avoid disconnection
By Loren Grube, Publisher
Due to the economic fallout from COVID, many families are having difficulty paying their bills. Deferments and utility shutoff moratoriums are ending, and families are left with months of past due utility bills.
If you find yourself in this situation, and you need help paying your past due heating bills, there is a program available through LIHEAP to help low-income families with their heating costs.
Health and Human Services provides a yearly grant to state agencies to aid low-income families with heating bills, water bills, and emergency repairs. For Washington state, the organization is LIHEAP (Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program). They provide energy assistance to Washington households through a network of twenty-six community action agencies. These local agencies help you determine if you’re eligible and how much assistance you might receive. If you qualify, the local agency will send payment directly to your energy utility. The local agency for Spokane County is SNAP. For Stevens County, it’s Rural Resources.
LIHEAP primarily assists households in catching up on their heating bills. However, they may also help repair or replace your unsafe or inoperative heating or cooling system in some situations. Households may also qualify to have their homes made more energy efficient through the Weatherization program. Be sure to discuss your needs with your local agency to see which programs you qualify for.
LIHEAP provides assistance to homeowners, renters, and families in mobile homes. Eligibility is based on several factors, including household income, size, and heating costs. They try to prioritize those with the lowest income and highest burden of past due bills. If your heating bill is in arrears, LIHEAP may pay up to $2,500 to get you caught up.
As part of the American Recovery Plan, LIHEAP now helps with past due water bills as well. If you qualify for heating assistance, you will qualify for water assistance. Note: They do not cover personal septic or wells.
Stevens County -Rural Resources
Appointment Number: (509) 685-6161 or (866) 260-2729
Spokane County – SNAP
Appointment Number: (509) 242-2376
General Inquiries: (509) 456-7627
It’s a busy season, keep trying
”We are in the busy season. Keep trying. Don’t get frustrated if you don’t get through on the first try,” says Brian Sarensen, LIHEAP Program Manager. “It is a first come first serve program. So, don’t give up. Keep trying until you get through.”
If you have questions or are having trouble getting to the right person, feel free to contact LIHEAP directly at LIHEAP@commerce.wa.gov or 360-725-2857. Be sure to leave a message, and a representative will get back to you.