The Center for Hunger-Free Communities

Solutions Based on Science and the Human Experience

I was making a pot of minestrone, with zucchini and onions, tomatoes and beans—good stuff in it. I wanted people to see that without money for propane, this was the only way to feed the family a warm nutritious meal. Without propane for my stove for 3 months this winter, I had to use my grill, or the microwave. When you don’t have a regular stove you are reduced to eating high calorie foods. Sometimes you end up buying a TV dinner, which is expensive and not nutritious. The more I eat junky food, the lousier I feel, and the more the depression sets in. I am sleepy all the time because I am not eating well. Also, it’s more expensive to be poor. If we had the 80 dollars to pay the bill, we wouldn’t have to pay 250 dollars to get the propane turned back on.


Energy Assistance

The high cost of heating one’s home in the winter is a tremendous burden on Philadelphia’s low-income families.  Being without heat in the middle of winter is a crisis, and families will do whatever they can to keep warm, including running a cooking stove to heat the house.

Low-income residents access emergency utility assistance through the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). Income eligibility levels are higher for LIHEAP than for TANF, so many families do not realize that they may qualify for the program.  For families facing a heating utility shut off who have already accessed LIHEAP can apply for additional help from the Utility Emergency Services Fund (UESF).

In addition to taking advantage of LIHEAP grants to provide one-time relief from high energy bills, low-income families can also lower their bills throughout the year by enrolling utility budget programs.  

  • Philadelphia Energy Company (PECO)
  • Philadelphia Gas Works (PGW) 
  • Philadelphia Water Department (PWD)

Current Issue

Pennsylvania will begin accepting LIHEAP applications on November 1, 2011.  Funding for LIHEAP and other energy assistance programs is at risk during deficit reduction negotiations. 


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