Texans can apply for financial assistance to deal with soaring energy bills

Officials are urging low-income Texans to apply as soon as possible for a reopened state-run program that helps eligible applicants pay their energy bills, the Dallas Morning News reported on Tuesday.

Renters and homeowners with a household income below 150% of the federal poverty level — or $34,545 for a family of three — are eligible to apply for the Texas Utility Assistance Program. According to the Morning News, at least one member of the applicant household must be a US citizen or “qualified alien.”

Applicants who receive funding can use the money to pay overdue energy bills or allocate up to $2,400 towards future energy payments. Texans can use the funds to cover electricity, natural gas and propane expenses; the state maintains a separate fund to help qualified applicants pay their sewage and water bills, according to the Morning News.

The program was originally launched in July with the help of an infusion of federal funding from the Low Income Energy Assistance Program. It was closed shortly after due to overwhelming demand, the Morning News reported.

“We are happy to be able to reopen energy assistance and help even more people…Although funds are limited, [the agency] is committed to helping as many households as possible gain a sense of stability and security for these basic needs,” Bobby Wilkinson, executive director of the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs, told the Morning News.

Energy costs have skyrocketed in Texas this year, with 45% of Texans giving up basic necessities to pay their energy bills, according to a Census Bureau summer survey.

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