Austin, Jan. 26, 2023 – The Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA) announced it is directing an additional $48 million from the Federal Infrastructure and Investment Jobs Act to the Texas Utility Help program to support homeowners and renters who need help paying energy bills.
Through Texas Utility Help, homeowners and renters can pay off total past due utility bills for electricity, natural gas, propane, water, and wastewater, plus get up to $2,400 in prospective payments. All approved payments are issued directly to the utility company on the applicant’s behalf.
Applicants must meet the following criteria to qualify:
- Household income must be at or below 150% of Federal Poverty Income Guidelines.
- At least one occupant in the household must be a United States citizen or Qualified Alien.
“The past year was hard on Texans, with rising food, housing and transportation costs and higher energy bills due to extreme heat over the summer. With the additional funds, we hope to ease some of the burden for as many renters and homeowners as possible,” said Bobby Wilkinson, TDHCA Executive Director. “We anticipate receiving more funding this year, although it’s unclear when or how much that will be, so we encourage everyone to apply now if they need help.”
Texas Utility Help also introduced a program change that adds future payments for water and wastewater assistance at $85 per month, through Sept. 30, 2023. Previously, water assistance was only available for past-due balances. Going forward, Texas Utility Help will send a payment to the approved applicant’s water and wastewater provider as one lump sum equal to:
- The applicant’s past-due balance (if any) plus
- $85 per month for future water and wastewater bills, through September 30, 2023
TDHCA advises anyone who qualifies for water and wastewater assistance to apply as soon as possible in order to receive the maximum possible benefit. The total amount of future payments will depend on when an application is approved. Applications approved in January will have $765 for future bills, while those approved in March will have $595 ($85/month for seven months).
People who applied and were approved for water bill assistance prior to the program change will receive $765 in future payments, which Texas Utility Help will send to applicable water providers this month. Applicants that fall into this category will receive an email from the program so they are aware of the credit being applied to their accounts.
To date, Texas Utility Help has distributed more than $28 million and assisted more than 13,350 households. Funding for the program comes from the federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and federal Low Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP).
For more information and questions, the call center is staffed Monday- Friday 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. and can be reached toll free at 855-566-2057. Help is available in multiple languages.
About the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs
The Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs is committed to expanding fair housing choice and opportunities for Texans through the administration and funding of affordable housing and homeownership opportunities, weatherization, and community-based services with the help of for-profits, nonprofits, and local governments. For more information about fair housing, funding opportunities, or services in your area, please visit www.tdhca.state.tx.us or the Learn about Fair Housing in Texas page.