Utilities are a basic need, but unfortunately they aren't always affordable. If you need help paying your utilities, various programs may be able to offer assistance on a one-time emergency basis. Government and non-profit aid also is available to help you catch up or reconnect your utility services. Although the specific program names may vary, the organizations listed are known to assist with utility bills.
The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program
The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program is a government initiative that provides funding for each state to assist families with energy costs. Each state administers its own LIHEAP, so each individual program may have different eligibility requirements and guidelines. The goal is to keep low income families cool in the summer and warm in the winter. If you're eligible for assistance, the program pays the utility provider directly. The benefit amount varies depending on your household size, income and location. Contact the Low Income Energy Office in your state by visiting the LIHEAP Clearinghouse website, or by calling the National Energy Assistance Referral line at 866-367-6228.
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Catholic Charities are located throughout the country and provide emergency assistance to help with basic needs, including utilities. The charity provides short-term financial help for overdue utility bills. Since assistance is only temporary, the charity also offers various services and programs to help you get back on your feet. Some of the additional programs include employment and adult education, food assistance, housing, clothing and counseling. Find an agency near you through CatholicCharitiesUSA.org.
The Salvation Army
The Salvation Army provides temporary assistance to households facing a hardship or emergency. Family services include help with food, housing and utilities. The specific programs vary depending on location. In California, the Relief for Energy Assistance through Community Help, referred to as REACH, awards up to $200 to low-income families to avoid service disconnection. In Minnesota and North Dakota, the HeatShare program helps pay for natural gas, oil, propane, wood and electricity. Share the Warmth is a Michigan program that helps low income households with heating costs. Priority is given to families with children, elderly or disabled individuals. SalvationArmyUSA.org provides a search tool to help you find your local division.
The Society of St. Vincent de Paul
The Society of St. Vincent de Paul was established to help the poor. The charity helps with necessities, including job training, food, clothing, prescriptions, housing and utilities. A past-due utility bill or shut off notice is required to receive assistance, and you can receive assistance once per year. Since funding is limited, the assistance available may vary based on location. For example, the Salem St. Vincent de Paul location will pay the last $50 of your bill. If your utility bill is $175, you'll need to have $125. Locate help near you at SVDPUSA.org.