Rise in natural gas prices could mean more needing LIHEAP assistance

Published: Oct. 11, 2021 at 3:24 AM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - The price of natural gas is now the highest it has been in the last 7 years.

The price of natural gas has risen by 180% in the past year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Experts warn that this could lead to higher heating bills this winter.

Iowa Low Income Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP, is a federally funded program that helps low-income individuals and families stay warm during the winter months. The State of Iowa partners with local agencies to assist with the program.

“I think the needs gonna probably go up a little bit,” said Chris Ackman, HACAP communications director. “Anytime peoples heating bills go up a little bit, we’re obviously going to see more people coming through our offices and wanting to apply for assistance with help with their utility bills, and it may even reach people who haven’t applied before.”

More than 80,000 households applied for LIHEAP assistance in 2021.

LIHEAP also raised its guidelines in 2021. A four-person household’s previous income level had to be at or below $39,300. For the fiscal year 2022, a 4 person household can make up to $53,000.

“It may even reach people who haven’t applied before, maybe this is the time that they need to apply because people are right on the edge of our, you know, income guidelines,” said Ackman. “So if, you know, heating bill goes up by say, $10 every month, that might be a big impact for somebody.”

Elderly and disabled community members are able to begin applying for assistance now; others can begin applying on November 1st.

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