AUSTIN, Texas – Local residents facing both a major cold snap and rising utility bills could soon receive some extra help through $103.7 million in federal energy assistance funds released this week by the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs. The funds are expected to help thousands of low-income families pay their utility bills and save money for other necessities such as housing, food and healthcare.
Assistance will be provided to eligible low-income households through TDHCA’s Comprehensive Energy Assistance Program and its network of 48 local service providers that collectively serve all 254 counties in the state.
Locally, TDHCA contracts with Community Services Inc. to provide CEAP services in Anderson, Collin, Denton, Ellis, Henderson, Hunt, Kaufman, Navarro, Rockwall and Van Zandt counties. TDHCA has notified the agency that it is slated to receive $3.7 million in new utility assistance funds, bringing to $5.6 million the total amount of funding available to help area low-income households meet their energy needs.
“Our energy assistance programs help tens of thousands of our state’s neediest households every year, and these new funds will help even more families cope with expected increases in home energy costs throughout the coming months,” said Michael Gerber, TDHCA executive director. “The department is committed to continuing our strong relationship with our CEAP network and working to ensure the health and safety of Texas’ most vulnerable residents.”
“We are very excited to know that we are receiving these additional CEAP funds,” said Community Services executive director Pauletta Hines. “My staff and I know first-hand what a serious challenge it can be for many of our clients to pay their monthly utility bill and still meet their other needs, especially elderly persons and persons with disabilities. This funding will help us reach even more families in need.”
In addition to TDHCA’s annual allocation of utility assistance program funds, today’s release also included an additional $2.5 million in emergency supplemental assistance funds. This brings to $155 million the total amount of CEAP funds available in the state.
The Comprehensive Energy Assistance Program helps eligible households meet their immediate energy needs while learning how to control future energy use through consumer education. In addition to direct financial assistance to help pay the family’s highest utility bills, CEAP may also assist with the repair or replacement of inefficient heating and cooling systems, water heaters, and refrigerators.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is the funding source for CEAP. Eligible households must earn an income equal to or less than 200 percent of the federal poverty guidelines to qualify for CEAP assistance. To put these income guidelines in context, this amount equals an annual income of $21,660 for an individual or $44,100 for a family of four.
For more information regarding utility assistance from TDHCA, call toll-free at 877-399-8939 from 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Friday. Callers will be directly connected with the local CEAP service provider serving their community. However, use a land-based phone when dialing the toll-free number; cell telephones will not make this automatic connection.
The Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs is the state agency responsible for affordable housing, community services, energy assistance, colonia housing programs, and disaster recovery housing programs. It administers more than $3 billion through for-profit, nonprofit, and local government partnerships to deliver local housing and community-based opportunities and assistance to Texans in need.