(TRENTON) - The Department of the Treasury’s Unclaimed Property Administration (UPA) presented a record $3.2 million to help provide assistance to low and moderate income New Jersey households struggling to pay their utility bills. The check, presented to the Affordable Housing Alliance, which administers the assistance, is nearly double last year’s $1.7 million contribution.
“No family should have to choose between putting food on the table and keeping the lights on or the heat running, particularly at this time of year,” said State Treasurer Elizabeth Maher Muoio. “Our Unclaimed Property Administration works tirelessly all year long to support their overarching mission of recovering and safeguarding funds for New Jersey residents. That mission becomes all the more special this time of year when a portion of those funds are used to help struggling families throughout our state.”
Under state statute, all funds received in unclaimed property deposits from electric and gas utilities are deposited into the Unclaimed Utility Deposits Trust Fund. Each year, 75 percent of those deposits received are issued to a statewide non-profit energy assistance organization designated by the Board of Public Utilities.
“Utility costs are a challenge for many struggling families all year long, particularly during winter and summer when heating and cooling costs soar,” said UPA Administrator Steve Harris. “It’s extremely rewarding to see the funds we manage help support such a worthy cause. This year we’re particularly gratified that this assistance is nearly double what we were able to provide last year.”
State law stipulates that the funds must be used exclusively for the payment of expenses associated with the restoration of electric or gas service, or to prevent the termination of electric or gas service provided to utility ratepayers seeking energy assistance. The remaining portion is retained in the trust fund, administered and invested by the State Treasurer, and used to pay Unclaimed Property claims and expenses and costs incurred by the State of New Jersey.
The Affordable Housing Alliance (AHA) is a New Jersey-based private, nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation that has been providing housing and related relief to New Jersey residents for over 22 years. The Alliance manages several utility assistance programs, including PAGE and LIHEAP, helping low and moderate individuals and families who are seeking relief in paying their gas, electric, and oil bills.
“As the economy improves and housing costs rise faster than incomes, individuals and families have found significant relief and hope through access to the PAGE program,” said Donna M. Blaze, AHA CEO. “Households all across New Jersey are often pleasantly surprised by the benefits the state provides to working families for utility assistance when they most need it. Call or go online to see if you could be one of the families we can help.”
Last year, the AHA distributed a record $4.2 million in grants to thousands of households throughout New Jersey. Applications for assistance can be found at: www.njpoweron.org.