On Thursday, July 29, Governor Pritzker signed SB265 into law expanding the Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and increasing access to the Percentage of Income Payment Plan (PIPP). The PIPP is a companion plan to LIHEAP which addresses utility affordability by allowing qualified participants to pay no more than six percent of their monthly income for electric and gas utility services as well as recieve forgiveness for 1/12 of their total utility debt for each on time monthly payment.
According to Larry Dawson, President and CEO of the Illinois Association of Community Action Agencies (IACAA), “This new law will allow many of our most vulnerable households to afford their utilities and reduce the burden of administering the program by the local Community Action Agencies.” Dawson went on to state, “This legislation that was signed into law resulted from many months of negotiations among a number of Community Action Agencies, energy affordability advocates, the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity staff and representatives of large regulated utilities.”
According to Cathy Feltner, Executive Director of Embarras River Basin Agency (ERBA), “This new law will enable us to serve more households and strengthen the safety net especially during these critical times of the pandemic when more households have sought our assistance.” Feltner went on to say, “Our Agency served more than 1,031 households with PIPP and 5,652 households with LIHEAP in FY 2021. We are planning to serve more households as a result of this very critical piece of legislation.”
Community Action Agencies (CAAs) that primarily administer the LIHEAP and PIPP programs in Illinois are federally designated to locally address the root causes of poverty. In Illinois there are 35 agencies that administer the LIHEAP and PIPP programs covering all 102 counties of the State with these critical services. Collectively, CAAs in Illinois provide vital services to more than one million individuals on an annual basis. Besides human services, many of the CAAs in Illinois are engaged in community and economic development activities that range from affordable housing creation, housing rehabilitation, supporting local businesses and employing small contractors. These agencies use both federal and state funding to address local poverty issues.
Applications for LIHEAP and PIPP are available starting on September 1, 2021. If you are interested in applying, please call ERBA at 1-800-252-1152.
The Illinois Association of Community Action Agencies is a membership organization which serves as the network for Illinois not-for-profit corporations and units of government which strive to raise the health, education and economic standards of Illinois low income population. Visit th website at www.iacaanet.org.