(TRENTON) - On National Unclaimed Property Day, the New Jersey Department of the Treasury's Unclaimed Property Administration (UPA) announced a $3.9 million contribution to help provide assistance to low and moderate income New Jersey households struggling to pay their utility bills. Each year, the contribution is presented to the Affordable Housing Alliance (AHA) for the Payment Assistance for Gas and electric (PAGE) program.
"As we get through winter, it is especially important for households to be able to keep their lights on and their heat running," said State Treasurer Elizabeth Maher Muoio. "As always, I am impressed with the accomplishments of our Unclaimed Property Administration. They work tirelessly all year long to connect New Jersey residents with their property, and it is outstanding to see their contributions continue to assist with utility costs."
Nearly 33 million people in the United States – 1 in every 10 – has unclaimed property: financial accounts or items of value in which the owner has not initiated any activity for a number of years. When that happens, and the company cannot locate the owner, the money or properties are submitted to the state. Common examples include unpaid life insurance benefits, forgotten bank accounts, utility deposits, and unused rebate cards. Treasury encourages all New Jersey citizens to search https://www.unclaimedproperty.nj.gov/ or www.unclaimed.org/ to determine if a state is holding their property. Individuals are encouraged to search their name, a maiden name, or the name of a business or nonprofit. The search is free.
Under State statute, all funds received in unclaimed property deposits from electric and gas utilities are deposited into the Unclaimed Utility Deposits Trust Fund. Each year, 75 percent of those deposits received are issued to a statewide non-profit energy assistance organization designated by the Board of Public Utilities.
"We are glad to see these funds going to households in need," said UPA Administrator Steve Harris. "Utility costs are a major cause for stress, especially during the winter, so we are proud to make a difference in the lives of our fellow New Jerseyans."
The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (NJBPU) offers a Winter Termination Program, and supports the work of PAGE and other nonprofit assistance organizations.
"The NJBPU is committed to ensuring all residents have safe and reliable utility service," said Joseph L. Fiordaliso, President of the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities. "The PAGE Program funded by Unclaimed Property Administration is an assistance program to help residents keep their heat and lights on, and we are grateful for our partners at the New Jersey Treasury Department for their continued support of this critical program that helps thousands of residents each year."
"As we continue to work through all of the external sources of strain for New Jersey's communities, the Payment Assistance for Gas and Electric program continues to be an integral part of the state's support structure. The PAGE program helps low- to moderate-income individuals and families pay their electric and natural gas bills, and through the course of the past year, the AHA approved over 7,500 applications and awarded almost $3.9 million in grants thanks in part to the support of the Department of the Treasury's Unclaimed Property Administration," said Randi Moore, CEO of AHA. "The positive change that comes from this program matters more than ever before. As we continue to build a more equitable state, the ability to make home energy costs more affordable allows residents to better address life's more pressing concerns. We are grateful for the Department of the Treasury's Unclaimed Property Administration and their commitment to supporting programs such as the PAGE program."
State law stipulates that the funds must be used exclusively for the payment of expenses associated with the restoration of electric or gas service, or to prevent the termination of electric or gas service provided to utility ratepayers seeking energy assistance. The remaining portion is retained in the trust fund, administered and invested by the State Treasurer, and used to pay Unclaimed Property claims and expenses and costs incurred by the State of New Jersey.
The Affordable Housing Alliance (AHA) is a New Jersey-based private, nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation that has been providing housing and related relief to New Jersey residents for over 24 years. The Alliance manages several utility assistance programs, including PAGE and LIHEAP, helping low and moderate individuals and families who are seeking relief in paying their gas, electric, and oil bills.
Applications for assistance can be found online.