December 7, 2022
The Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) today announced additional heating cost relief to help older Mainers with low income pay for high energy costs, complementing Governor Mills’ Emergency Winter Energy Relief Plan.
During the week of December 12, DHHS will provide one-time payments of $500 to approximately 13,000 households that include Maine people aged 65 or older with low income to help them pay for home heating costs. This assistance is focused on older Mainers with income below 133 percent of the federal poverty line who have received a Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefit and had a reported heat expense in September 2022. The one-time $6.6 million cost of this support comes from existing state funding intended to promote the health and safety of older Maine people, who are at greater risk of illness due to inadequate warmth during the winter.
The $500 payments follow separate rounds of heating cost relief for eligible Maine families, to help keep children warm in the winter to support their health and learning. DHHS provided nearly 15,000 households that participate in SNAP, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Parents as Scholars, or Higher Opportunity for Pathways to Employment (HOPE) with a $1,000 payment in November to assist with documented heating costs. DHHS issued a similar round of $800 heating relief payments to nearly 13,000 low-income families with children in March. The approximately $25 million cost of both payments to families was supported by TANF funding, which may be used for relief from extraordinary circumstances, such as unprecedented winter heating expenses.
Taken together, these latest payments represent more than $30 million provided by DHHS to help Maine people stay warm this year in the face of near-record energy prices. The payments help to offset the costs of heating sources – such as oil, gas, propane, wood, and electricity – as well as the repair or replacement of essential heating systems. Individuals and families that receive heating relief through DHHS may also be eligible for the Winter Energy Relief Payment announced as part of Governor Mills’ Emergency Winter Energy Relief Plan.