Program helps low-income Hoosiers keep warm this winter


By Adrianna Pitrelli

INDIANAPOLIS — As chillier weather arrives, some Hoosiers have to make the decision between warming their homes or putting food on the table.

“It’s often comes down to making that choice in the winter,” said Jessica Di Santo, director of communications for United Way of Central Indiana.

But through the Low Income Energy Assistance Program, Hoosiers can get help.

The Low Income Energy Assistance Program starts its Winter Assistance Program Wednesday.

The Winter Assistance Program, started in 2006, provides funds for low-income families to pay their utility bills.

The money, provided by the federal government, is administered by community-based organizations across 92 counties. People below 150 percent of the poverty line, which is an individual making less than $18,096 or a family of four making less than $36,900, are eligible for the assistance.

“It really is United Way’s mission to put people on a path of self-sufficiency,” Di Santo said. “You can’t be on that path if you’re living below the poverty level and worried about making high energy payments throughout the winter.”

The Energy Assistance Program helps about 108,000 families yearly by providing financial assistance to low-income households to maintain utility service during the winter heating and summer cooling seasons. Locally, United Way of Central Indiana served 18,661 low income households in Marion County last year with these federal dollars.

Assistance is income-based and the electric utility expenses must be the responsibility of the household.

“With this federal program, at least one of those barriers is eliminated for this group of people,” Di Santo said. “It helps clear the hurdles for these individuals to have a warm home and be on a path to self sufficiency.”

Applicants must provide income, household and utility verification. The benefit is one-time and is given directly to the utility provider.

People can apply online at or can make an appointment by calling 211.

Adrianna Pitrelli is a reporter for, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.