State OKs $275 Million in Emergency Relief For Families Impacted By COVID-19

State OKs $275 Million in Emergency Relief For Families Impacted By COVID-19

Kane County residents are among those eligible for $275 million in funding through the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program and Community Services Block Grant programs, which now include an additional $90 million allocated via the CARES Act.

State officials and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity announced Monday (June 15, 2020) that the CARES Act funding will allow the state to increase eligibility to 1 million income-qualified Illinoisans.

Effective immediately, eligible Illinois residents and families can apply to receive assistance with food, rent, utilities, temporary shelter, medicine and other essential household services.

To learn more about these expanded offerings and to fill out new remote applications made live today, visit www.helpillinoisfamilies.com.

The state’s FY21 budget increases the eligibility income threshold up to 200 percent of federal poverty level, which means about 3.5 million Illinoisans are eligible for hundreds of dollars in relief.

See the graphics above to learn more about the types of assistance and eligibility requirements.

DCEO has launched a new remote application process that will provide applicants the option to begin the intake process online or over the phone with the assistance of a live agent. The state’s new website and call center will be accessible for all residents — with assistance provided in English and Spanish, and other languages assisted through translation.

By eliminating the requirement to apply in person, income-eligible applicants can swiftly proceed through the application process from the safety of their own home.

Applications will be taken on a first-come, first-served basis until funding is exhausted. In the coming weeks DCEO will partner with its network of 35 statewide Community Action Agencies to conduct outreach to high-need communities to let them know about this critical funding available, and to inform them of easy steps they can take to apply immediately.

Qualifying participants could receive hundreds of dollars in relief support. Last year, the average household qualifying for LIHEAP received $600 in assistance. Expanded eligibility for CSBG takes effect immediately.

New LIHEAP eligibility will come online at the end of July, but residents can still apply for 2020 programing through June 30.

To expedite application reviews, DCEO will work with CAAs and local agencies to verify income and eligibility documentation. Eligibility will be determined by a number of factors, such as household size and the applicant’s ability to verify documentation.

While the state typically disburses community assistance funds in a matter of weeks, turnaround time under the expanded “Help Illinois Families” initiative may be extended due to the volume of applications received.

Residents who believe they may be eligible are encouraged to visit the website and follow easy steps to apply immediately. The state is reminding applicants of the following documentation required for applying, depending on type of assistance being sought:

  • Proof of employment (paystubs) for the head of the household for the last 30 days.
  • Copy of current heat and electric bills issued within the last 30 days (if they pay for their energy directly).
  • Copy of their rental agreement (if they are renting) showing that utilities are not included, the monthly rental amount and landlord contact information.
  • Proof of Social Security numbers for all household members.

“Older adults across Illinois have been hit especially hard by the health and economic impacts of COVID-19,” said Bob Gallo, state director for AARP Illinois. “On behalf of our 1.7 million members, we commend state and community leaders for recognizing the need to provide a crucial safety net to older adults, so that they can worry a little less about falling behind on utility, rent and other essential expenses and continue to focus on their health and safety.”

DCEO’s Office of Community Assistance manages three federal programs; LIHEAP, CSBG and the Illinois Home Weatherization Assistance Program).

Last year alone, these programs served more than 350,000 households, with CSBG providing more than 400,000 services and LIHEAP providing utility bill assistance to approximately 250,000 households.

SOURCE: state of Illinois news release