Contact: Julie Willmot
(609) 278-7137

TRENTON, N.J.- Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes announced today that with winter just weeks away and heating costs promising to rise substantially, the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program will prove more important than ever this year.

"We've got a tough winter ahead of us," said Hughes, "but our Home Energy Assistance Program is fully prepared to help residents keep warm at a manageable cost."

This year's heating season will begin on Nov. 1 and will continue into Spring 2007. Individuals meeting various income qualifications can apply for bill payment assistance, energy crisis assistance, and energy-related home repairs. Last year's clients can expect to receive applications from the Mercer County Housing and Community Development Office during the first two weeks of November. New clients, as well as returning clients, can contact the Office at (609) 989-6858 or 989-6959 or visit the Office on the Fourth Floor of the County Administration Building at 640 South Broad Street.

During the past heating season, which began Nov. 1, 2005, and ended May 31, 2006, the County disbursed a total of $7 million to County residents for home heating costs and for home energy efficiency improvements. Monies are from the federally funded Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) Department of Health and Human Services, and funding levels are established annually.

Last season, the County gave a total of $4.77 million in LIHEAP assistance to 9,541 families and an additional $1.87 in grants to 3,728 families for emergency assistance.

The County also has issued Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) grants totaling $440,853 to 197 families. WAP is another of the missions of the Housing and Community Development Office, which is committed to helping residents become homeowners, and once they are homeowners, assist with the type of improvements that will save money and improve their quality of life.