DCA Alerts Households with Overdue Electric and Natural Gas Bills that December 15, 2021 Is the Deadline to Apply for Utility Relief
- Posted on: 11/15/2021
Households Experiencing Difficulties in Applying Can Contact Partnering Community Organizations for Assistance
TRENTON, NJ – The New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA) is alerting households with overdue electric and natural gas bills that they have until December 15, 2021 to apply for utility relief. The Department mailed out letters in mid-October to approximately 350,000 households behind in their electric and gas bills to inform them about assistance to pay their utility arrearages and to urge them to immediately apply for help since the assistance is available for a limited time only.
Households that might have misplaced the letter, didn’t open it, or forgot about it can visit https://dcaid.dca.nj.gov/dcaid-services and enter their utility account number to see if they qualify for arrears assistance.
Also, households that are having difficulty applying are encouraged to contact the nonprofit community organization in their county of residence that is working with DCA to provide application assistance. A list of the community organizations providing such assistance is available at https://www.nj.gov/dca/divisions/dhcr/offices/agencydirectorylist.html on the DCA website.
“The application period to receive help with past due electric and gas bills is closing soon. We are imploring people who need assistance to take advantage of this opportunity before it ends next month,” said Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver, who serves as DCA Commissioner. “Community groups across the state are standing by ready to assist people who may need help completing and submitting the application. This utility relief may cover most, if not all, of what people owe, but they have to act now.”
The State of New Jersey’s grace period for paying overdue utility bills is set to expire on December 31 after which utilities can be disconnected for non-payment.
The letters mailed out last month contain a QR code that households can scan with their smartphone to access a State website to apply for utility relief. The letter also includes a web address and toll-free phone number for those households that don’t have a smartphone or internet.
Households must complete an application form and certify that a COVID-related hardship affected their ability to pay for electric and/or gas bills. If found eligible, households will receive credits on their utility accounts.
Approximately $375 million in federal funding has been allocated for utility arrearages. Sixty percent of the allocation is coming from legislation (S-3691) Governor Murphy signed into law on August 4, 2021. The remainder is from Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funding set aside specifically for utility arrearages.
For those households that did not receive a letter from DCA but are still in need of assistance, the LIHEAP and New Jersey Universal Service Fund (USF) program application period is open. New Jersey residents can apply online by visiting https://njdca-housing.dynamics365portals.us/en-US/dcaid-services/. To find out if they’re eligible for this assistance, people can use the completely anonymous online screening tool called DCAid by visiting nj.gov/dca/dcaid.
The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is a federal program that helps households at or below 60 percent of the state median income ($6,439 a month for a family of four) pay for energy costs (electric, gas, deliverable fuels and those included in rent). The Universal Service Fund (USF) program provides a monthly credit on electric and gas bills for households at or below 400 percent of the federal poverty level ($8,833 a month for a family of four).
Also, the Lifeline Utility Assistance Program, which is administered by the New Jersey Department of Human Services, provides an annual $225 grant for electric and gas costs to seniors and the disabled. The grant appears as a credit on a utility bill or is included in a recipient’s Supplemental Security Income check. Income limits for this program are set at less than $28,769 for a single person or at $35,270 if married.
DCA offers a wide range of programs and services, including affordable housing production, fire safety, building safety, community planning and development, local government management and finance, and disaster recovery and mitigation.
For more information about DCA, visit https://nj.gov/dca/ or follow the Department on social media: