Utilities Shut-off Protection Ends June 14, Apply for Assistance Today
The Murphy Administration is urging households that are behind on their utility, water, or sewer bills to apply for assistance today.
Governor Phil Murphy signed legislation (S-2356) extending the prohibition on utility shutoffs for certain residential customers with overdue utility payments who are waiting for a decision on their application for state assistance in paying off their utility bill arrearages.
These protections, which required local authorities, municipal or public utilities, and rural electric cooperatives to continue providing electric, gas, sewer, or water service to residential customers who have submitted an application for utility assistance but have not yet received a determination, will end on June 14, 2022.
“The time is now for those who have not yet applied for assistance with their past-due utility bills,” said Lt. Governor Sheila Y. Oliver, who serves as DCA Commissioner. “Please take advantage of this opportunity as shut-off protection will end on June 14. We’re urging people to apply for assistance today through the online DCAid portal.”
“Time is running out for anyone who is behind on their utility bills to make arrangements before their service is disconnected,” said New Jersey Board of Public Utilities President Joseph L. Fiordaliso. “If individuals with overdue balances apply for an assistance program by June 14, their service will not be disconnected while their application is pending. Individuals may also contact their utility to set up a payment plan. We don’t want to see anyone lose their service, so we are hopeful everyone who is behind on their bill will take action this week.”
The State of New Jersey has multiple programs to assist with past-due utility bills.
Eligible households can visit the DCAid portal to submit an application for assistance. The DCAid portal also checks to see what other benefits the applicant may qualify for. Screening only takes about 1-2 minutes to complete.
LIHEAP is a federal program that helps households at or below 60 percent of the state median income (for example, $6,439 a month for a family of four) pay for home energy costs such as heating and cooling.
The LIHEAP program is focused on helping households pay their current and past due energy heating bills. However, the program will also supplement essential cooling bills for vulnerable people to help lessen the impacts of excessive heat as the summer months approach.
The programs also include the Low Income Household Water Assistance (LIHWAP) program, announced by DCA in early March, that provides benefits directly to water and wastewater companies, on behalf of residential customers.
DCA also administers the Universal Service Fund (USF) program, which provides a monthly credit on electric and gas bills for households at or below 400 percent of the federal poverty level (for example, $8,833 a month for a family of four).
All of the mentioned programs are actively accepting applications and people can apply through the one-stop online application portal DCAid.
Participants in the LIHEAP program are automatically eligible for LIHWAP assistance as long as they are water/wastewater bill holders.
People who do not have access to computers or the internet can call 1-800-510-3102 to be directed to one of the community action agencies partnering with DCA to assist them with starting, completing, and submitting an application online.
A list of the community organizations providing such assistance is available here on the DCA website.
DCA offers a wide range of programs and services, including energy assistance, housing vouchers, affordable housing production, fire and building safety, community planning and development, local government management and finance, and disaster recovery and mitigation.