Lucerne County

Moderate-income Luzerne County households urged to seek heating aid


Thousands of moderate-income Luzerne County households have not yet applied for $290 in heating assistance available through a special public relief program approved by county council, officials said Wednesday.

Council had earmarked $2.5 million in federal American Rescue Plan funding to help homeowners and renters typically shut out of other utility aid.

Applicants do not have to be delinquent on their utility bill, be out of fuel or demonstrate any hardship to be eligible.

If approved, the $290 checks will be payable to the applicants’ utility of choice, and all types of heating and deliverable fuels are covered.

Applications are available at

More than 7,700 families can qualify for assistance based on the amount of funding allocated by the county, officials have said.

Since the application process was activated Dec. 12, approximately 800 have submitted requests.

Of those, about 400 have met the eligibility requirements, which collectively equates to $116,000 in payments, said Jennifer Warabak, executive director of the nonprofit Commission on Economic Opportunity (CEO), which is administering the program for the county.

At CEO’s urging, council set a higher income limit to help households ineligible for publicly funded utility programs and utility company customer assistance and hardship programs.

Through its extensive experience operating such assistance programs, CEO had “encountered countless situations of families and individuals” in need who do not qualify for other programs largely because their household income exceeds limits set by funding sources, council’s agenda said, adding, “These families, like many, often sacrifice one expense to pay their monthly heating bills.”

Applicants for the program must reside in the county household seeking the funding and be responsible for paying the household’s main or secondary heating source. Renters are eligible unless their utility services are factored into their rent.

Households of the following sizes are eligible if their gross annual income falls between these minimum and maximum ranges, with the monthly income limits listed in parenthesis, according to CEO:

• Single, $29,160 to $43,740 ($2,430 to $3,645 per month)

• Two, $39,440 to $59,160 ($3,287 to $4,930)

• Three, $49,720 to $74,580 ($4,143 to $6,215)

• Four, $60,000 to $90,000 ($5,000 to $7,500)

• Five, $70,280 to $105,420 ($5,857 to $8,785)

• Six, $80,560 to $120,840 ($6,713 to $10,070)

• Seven, $90,840 to $136,260 ($7,570 to $11,355)

• Eight, $101,120 to $151,680 ($8,427 to $12,640)

Proof of household income for the prior 30 days is required.

Council Chairman John Lombardo said Wednesday council wanted to help citizens who may not meet poverty guidelines but are still struggling. A link to the application also is posted on the main page at, he said.

“We are urging everyone to go to the website and check out the application. It’s very simple and easy to understand,” Lombardo said.

Warabak said paper applications also are available at county government building entrances, active adult centers, public libraries and CEO and state legislative offices. Municipalities also have been contacted.

“We’re trying to get the word out there,” Warabak said.

In a release issued Wednesday, Warabak said the Pennsylvania Utility Commission recommends any households struggling to pay a utility bill should contact their utility’s customer service hotline and update their household size and income information — including the ages of all occupants — and inquire about customer assistance or hardship programs.

There are several options for households that need help keeping up with their heating bills this winter, and each program has different eligibility requirements, her release said. CEO manages several utility programs on behalf of the state, local utility companies and the county. Residents can contact CEO at 570-826-0510 or visit its Wilkes-Barre or Hazleton offices.


Reach Jennifer Learn-Andes at 570-991-6388 or on Twitter @TLJenLearnAndes.



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