High utility bills can be a significant burden for many families in Texas, especially during the hot summer months. The cost of electricity and other utilities is on the rise, making it difficult for some households to afford the bills that they receive each month. Thankfully, there are assistance programs available to help those in need. This article aims to inform readers about the different assistance programs available in Texas for paying utility bills, and tips for reducing energy usage and lowering bills.
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How can I get help paying my utility bills in Texas?
There are several ways to get help paying utility bills in Texas. These include applying to federal or state assistance programs or applying for grants and credits that are distributed by private organizations and non-profits. The list below is not written in a specific order, you should check the eligibility criteria of each organization and apply to the programs that can help:
1. Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
This is a federal program that provides financial assistance to low-income households to help them pay their heating and cooling bills. The program is administered by the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs, and the application process typically begins in the fall. Assistance is provided as a one-time cash grant that’s sent directly to your utility company.
Grants are normally between $300-$1000 based on several parameters like income and household size.
Eligibility for Assistance for the LIHEAP program
Eligibility for LIHEAP is based on income, with a cutoff point that is typically at or below 150% of the federal poverty level. Households with elderly or disabled members, and households with young children, may also qualify for additional assistance.
The current household income limits for the LIHEAP program are:
|Household Size||Maximum Income Level (Per Year)|
How to apply to the LIHEAP program?
Contact the Community Affairs Director in the Texas Department of Houston & Community Affairs:
TEL: (512) 475-3951
FAX: (512) 475-3935
WEB SITE: http://www.tdhca.state.tx.us/community-affairs/index.htm
Or view the updated contact details here: https://www.acf.hhs.gov/ocs/map/liheap-map-state-and-territory-contact-listing#TX_5213
2. Community Services Block Grant (CSBG)
This is a federally funded program that provides low-income households with services such as energy assistance, job training, and child care. The program is administered by the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs and the program is designed to support low-income families.
Eligibility for Assistance for the CSGB program
To be eligible for this benefit program, your financial situation must be classified as either low-income or very low-income.
How to apply to the CSBG program?
Phone: (512) 475-3905
Fax: (512) 475-3935
Or view the Texas CSGB contact detail here: https://www.acf.hhs.gov/ocs/map/csbg-map-state-and-territory-grantee-contact-information#TX_21702
3. Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
This program provides financial assistance to low-income families with children. It provides both cash assistance and a number of work-related services. The assistance is provided as monthly cash payments that should be used for: Food, Clothing, Houston, Utilities, Furniture, Transportation, Phone, Laundry, Supplier for the home, Medical supplies not paid for by Medicaid, and other basic needs.
The monthly cash payment will vary based on the family size and the number of parents/caretakers. There’s also an option for a one-time TANF payment of $1000 for certain relatives that are caring for one or more related children. A typical TANF monthly assistance payment will range between $64-$466.
Eligibility for Assistance for the TANF program
To qualify for TANF assistance, the family must have children aged 18 or younger and have limited or no financial resources or means of obtaining them. The family can be either:
- Parents and their children
- Relatives caring for related children
Eligibility for TANF will be determined by assessing the family’s:
- Financial assets and income
- Property and assets
- Child care and child support expenses
How to apply to the TANF program?
In order to make it easier to apply, the Texas Health and Human Services accepts applications for new benefits through the YourTexasBenefits.com portal.
4. Comprehensive Energy Assistance Program (CEAP)
This program is administrated by the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs and it provides energy bill payment assistance to low-income households, it also includes services such as Energy education and Energy-related minor home repairs, and also weatherization services.
Eligibility for Assistance for the CEAP program
The Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA) provides assistance and funds to local organizations, rather than to individuals directly. Individuals cannot apply directly to TDHCA for assistance. You’ll need to contact a provider in your area in order to enroll.
If no provider is available in your area, check with your local city or county for available assistance resources.
How to apply to the CEAP program?
- Go to the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs website.
- Select the type of assistance you’re looking for from the list.
- Enter your City or County, and search for a local provider that can apply on your behalf.
- Contact the provider directly and start the application process.
5. Utility Company-Sponsored Assistance Programs
Some utility companies in Texas also offer assistance programs for customers who are having difficulty paying their bills. These programs may include bill payment plans, energy efficiency programs, and even weatherization services. Additionally, utility companies may also offer discounts or credits to customers who are on a fixed income. These programs tend to change so contact your utility company directly to find out which programs are still running and the most recent eligibility requirements.
Eligibility for Assistance for the Utility Sponsored programs’
Utility companies may have different requirements for eligibility, however, normally in order to qualify for their assistance programs your annual household income must be at or below 200% of the federal poverty guidelines.
How to apply to the Utility Sponsored Assistance programs?
Depending on which utility company services your address, you will need to contact them directly:
6. Non-Profit Organizations
Organizations such as 2-1-1 and BakerRipley offer a wide range of services to those in need, including utility bill assistance. These organizations can provide direct financial aid or may also provide services such as energy-efficiency upgrades, weatherization, and counseling on budgeting and energy conservation.
Eligibility for Assistance for Non-Profit programs
Contact each organization separately to learn more about their assistance programs and eligibility.
How to apply to the Non-Profit assistance programs?
You may not be able to apply to all of the organizations in this list, but this exhaustive list represents most of the private/non-profit organizations you should contact for help:
|BakerRipley||(713) 590-2327||Visit Website|
|2-1-1 Texas||(877) 541-7905||Visit Website|
|Catholic Charities Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston||(713) 526-4611|
|Jewish Federation of Greater Houston||(713) 729-7000||Visit Website|
|Upbring||(512) 459-1000||Visit Website|
|Volunteers of America Houston Office||(713) 460-0781||Visit Website|
|Assistance League of Houston||(713) 526-7983||Visit Website|
|Assistance League of the Bay Area||(281) 554-2594||Visit Website|
|Volunteers of America of Texas||(817) 529-7300||Visit Website|
|Operation Homefront||(210) 659-7756||Visit Website|
|Temporary Assistance for Needy Families||Visit Website|
|Modest Needs||Visit Website|
|Crisis Intervention Program||1-800-662-7030||Visit Website|
It’s important to note that these programs are available on a first-come first-served basis, some only for a specific period of time, and some have limited funding. To find out more about the availability of a specific program, eligibility, and how to apply, it is advisable to visit the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA) website or contact them directly.
What is Texas Utility Help Program?
The Texas Utility Help program aims to simplify the process of obtaining assistance. This website offers a streamlined application process through an intuitive online form that helps Texas households with energy and water bill assistance in one single form.
The funds provided through the program are in the form of grants, which do not require repayment by the households. The payments will be made directly to the utility company on behalf of the household.
Eligibility For the Texas Utility Help Program
In order to qualify for the program, the household income must be at or below 150% of the Federal Poverty Income Guidelines (FPIG). Additionally, at least one member of the household must be a citizen or a qualified alien.
Proof of citizenship or qualified alien status, such as a passport or permanent resident card, may be required as part of the application process. The immigration status of qualified aliens will be verified through the SAVE (Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements) database.
How to apply to the Texas Utility Help Program?
Enrollment in this program is done online through the dashboard. First, create an account on the Texas Utility Help website and follow the instructions on the screen.
What government assistance can I get in Texas?
In Texas, there are several government assistance programs available to help low-income individuals and families. Some of the main programs include:
- Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
- Community Services Block Grant (CSBG)
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Comprehensive Energy Assistance Program (CEAP)
It’s important to note that each program has its own set of eligibility criteria, application process, and services. Read the sections above or visit the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA) website to get more information about the availability and how to apply for the programs.
A standard application will include 8 steps:
To make it easier for new applications the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs created 2 separate websites that streamline the process of applying and receiving assistance: