Utility and heating bill assistance is provided by the Oregon Housing and Community Services Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) as well as weatherization. The two programs were designed to both help lower income households with saving money on their energy bills and helping people pay home heating costs.
All of the various Oregon financial assistance programs are administered locally by Community Action Agencies, and anyone interested in applying needs to call them for information or to set up an appointment. These are not government entitlement programs, and aid is offered for people who meet income levels, and you do not need to be receiving public assistance in order to benefit from LIHEAP or weatherization.
There are various eligibility requirements in place for residents. Income limits are in place that are partly based on household size. In addition, a household must also have proof of their energy costs and income. Homeowners and renter are both eligible, provided your landlord approved. Applications for LIHEAP need to be submitted at your local senior service agency or Community Action Agency.
Oregon Housing and Community Services works with the non-profit agencies in running the program and ensuring rules and regulations are met. Service providers do have flexibility in designing heating bill assistance programs that best meet local community needs, so there could be some variation in the procedures from county to county. However, no matter the agency, they all try to stay within the main mission of the LIHEAP program, which is to assist low income households, particularly seniors, people at risk, and those with the lowest incomes, pay their heating bills.
Formal documentation is needed when you apply for the Oregon program. Some examples of documents that applicants may need to provide at the time of application include verification of residence address (copy of utility bill), names/birthdates for all household members, complete and total income verification for the previous 3 months, Social Security numbers and ID for all household members, and also the details on your Heating Energy Vendor including account number. Your local community action agency may have other requirements as well.
Free weatherization and energy conservation services are provided to low income qualified families in Oregon. This service is also offered in partnership between the federal government, your community action agency, and the Oregon Housing and Community Services. All updates are offered at no cost to residents.
The federal option is not the only one available. There are a few other options, including Energy Conservation Helping Oregonians (ECHO) as well as conservation services from the Bonneville Power Administration. They are paid for by electric deregulation public funds, or federal government block grants.
After a household is approved to participate, the Weatherization Assistance Program and highly trained contractors perform an energy audit, which measures your home's current energy use and determines which energy conservation and safety measures are best for your home. The community action agency will discuss these potential measures with you before these contractors begin the work on your home. After these measures are complete, the state of Oregon weatherization program will ensure you are provided a final inspection for quality control.
Weatherization assistance programs generally provide the following services, however it will be based on program funding, the condition of the applicant’s residence and other factors. First a contractor will perform an energy audit, which measures your home's current status, including energy use and determines which safety and energy conservation measures are best for your home. Then the updates begin.
Some of what can be done includes health and safety repairs, energy conservation education, heating system repair and replacement, baseload measures, and things like furnace repairs or even a replacement of your heating system. There is often a waiting list, and once an application has been submitted and approved by the state, the qualifying household may have to wait an extended period of time. Oregon households commonly reduce their energy and heating bills by around 15-30%, making more money available to families for other pressing household needs, such as paying for food, rent, housing costs and transportation.
The LIHEAP and weatherization programs in Oregon are administered through local non-profit organizations, including public housing authorities, Community Action Program (CAP) agencies, tribes, and senior centers. Priority is given to disabled persons, senior citizens who are 60 years of age and older, and households with children.
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