HELENA — As the weather begins to cool down and we step into fall, many will begin to utilize their heating systems again. But with high inflation this year some may need a little extra help.
The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) works to provide funds to help pay winter energy bills for those with lower incomes.
According to the National Energy & Utility Affordability Coalition, more than 117,000 households in Montana are eligible for the program, but just 15,800, or around 13%, utilized it. More than three-quarters of those households have at least one vulnerable member. That could be someone over the age of 60, under the age of six, or someone disabled.
Those in the tri-county area of Lewis & Clark County, Broadwater County, and Jefferson County can utilize the non-profit Rocky Mountain Development Council (RMDC) for this possible life-changing help.
“With the cost of rising gas prices and electricity, especially during the winter months, and the amount of people in our counties that we service that are on fixed income, Social Security, SSI, it's just a great help to make them, get them through the winter months. And especially now, with the way rent is going up so high but these people, they do need this extra help,” says Lead Eligibility Technician and Energy Share Coordinator at RMDC, Diana Johnson.
The program runs from October 1 – April 30. Homeowners and renters alike are eligible to apply. Eligibility depends upon factors such as the number of people in a household and income.
Also offered are similar programs such as the Low Income Home Water Assistance Program and the Weatherization Assistance Program which work to pay water bills and better weatherize homes respectively. You can apply to all of these assistance programs by submitting an application to the Rocky Mountain Development Council.