Community Information

DCA Notifies Households with Overdue Electric and Natural Gas Bills that Utility Relief Is Available

​Letters Mailed Out Today to Approximately 350,000 Households Eligible for Assistance; DCA Urges Households that Receive a Letter to Immediately Apply for Help

TRENTON, NJ – The New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA) today mailed out letters to approximately 350,000 households with overdue electric and natural gas bills to notify them that they are potentially eligible for assistance to pay their utility arrearages. The Department urges people who receive a letter to act quickly and immediately apply for help since the assistance is available for a limited time only.

“If you or a loved one receives a letter from the Department of Community Affairs about utility relief, please understand that the letter is official and legitimate. Do not throw it away or toss it aside. We encourage you to follow the instructions on the letter and apply as soon as you can for help with your overdue electric and gas bills,” said Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver, who serves as DCA Commissioner. “The pandemic has been hard on so many people and forced families to choose between essential expenses like housing, food, medicine, and utilities. If you weren’t able to pay one or more utility bills, assistance is available to cover most, if not all, of what you owe.”

The letter contains a QR code that households can scan with their smartphone to access a State website to apply for utility relief. The letter also includes a web address and toll-free phone number for those households that don’t have a smartphone or internet.

Households will have one month from the time they receive the letter to complete the application form and certify that a COVID-related hardship affected their ability to pay for electric and/or gas bills. If found eligible, households will receive credits on their utility accounts.

Approximately $375 million in federal funding has been allocated for utility arrearages. Sixty percent of the allocation is coming from legislation (S-3691) Governor Murphy signed into law on August 4, 2021. The remainder is from Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funding set aside specifically for utility arrears.

For those households that are current on their utility bills, but are still in need of assistance, the LIHEAP and New Jersey Universal Service Fund (USF) program application period opened on October 1, 2021. New Jersey residents can apply online by visiting https://njdca-housing.dynamics365portals.us/en-US/dcaid-services/. To find out if they’re eligible for this assistance, people can use the completely anonymous online screening tool called DCAid by visiting nj.gov/dca/dcaid.

The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is a federal program that helps households at or below 60 percent of the state median income ($6,439 a month for a family of four) pay for energy costs (electric, gas, deliverable fuels and those included in rent). The Universal Service Fund (USF) program provides a monthly credit on electric and gas bills for households at or below 400 percent of the federal poverty level ($8,833 a month for a family of four).
Also, the Lifeline Utility Assistance Program, which is administered by the New Jersey Department of Human Services, provides an annual $225 grant for electric and gas costs to seniors and the disabled. The grant appears as a credit on a utility bill or is included in a recipient’s Supplemental Security Income check. Income limits for this program are set at less than $28,769 for a single person or at $35,270 if married.

DCA offers a wide range of programs and services, including affordable housing production, fire safety, building safety, community planning and development, local government management and finance, and disaster recovery and mitigation.

For more information about DCA, visit nj.gov/dca/ or follow the Department on social media

THE STATE IS ENDING ITS COVID-19-RELATED MORATORIUM ON UTILITY SHUTOFFS AS OF JULY 1ST, WITH A GRACE PERIOD RUNNING THROUGH DEC. 31ST

During the grace period, people with unpaid utility bills will be protected from shutoffs and can enroll in payment assistance plans. “This is something we are taking very seriously.

No one will face disconnection of their gas, electric or water service before the end of Dec. 31 2021,” Governor Murphy said at his daily COVID-19 press briefing.

Dec. 31 was the date mentioned in the legislation the governor signed earlier this month allowing for the termination of other COVID-19-related executive orders and the public health emergency.

Households with residential internet service accounts used by school age children for educational purposes will be protected from disconnections. Additionally, the governor said the conclusion of the grace period will occur during the annual winter moratorium on gas and electric shutoffs for certain households including senior citizens and low-income families. These groups will be protected from shutoffs until the middle of March 2022.

“Now that the public health emergency declaration has been lifted, it is proper to restore our utility marketplace,” Murphy added. “However, we are going to maintain strong consumer protections as families get back on their feet.”

He said American Rescue Plan (ARP) money can be used toward utility assistance and said he will continue to evaluate how to best use those funds to help families. The federal COVID-19 related aid for New Jersey totals $6.2 billion.

South Jersey Gas Initiative:
Utility Assistance Initiative is continuing through June 30th, 2021. Each day on social media, we will feature assistance programs available to our customers. The statewide Moratorium on Utility Shutoffs Ends July 1st, With a Grace Period Running Through December 31, 2021. Eligibility requirements for many programs have been expanded this year and the best way to know what someone might qualify for is to apply. If COVID-19 has affected someone’s income or employment, they may be newly eligible for assistance.

For more information on the programs available, please see our Utility Bill Assistance Fact Sheets or visit southjerseygas.com/energyassistance .

  • LIHEAP (Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program) applications end on June 30, 2021. Eligibility requirements and online applications are available at nj.gov/dca/dcaid
  • Emergency LIHEAP the deadline to apply for HEAP and Emergency HEAP is June 30, 2021. Customers who have already received HEAP are eligible to receive up to $700 of additional emergency funding.


· USF (Universal Service Fund) uses the same application as LIHEAP and accepts them year-round. Applicants may be eligible for Energy Debt Forgiveness with the USF Fresh Start Program
· PAGE (Payment Assistance for Gas and Electric) helps those who need additional support and those that may exceed LIHEAP income limits. Applications are available at njpoweron.org
· Lifeline application is available at Department of Human Services | Lifeline (state.nj.us)
· NJ SHARES provides relief to people who are not eligible for other types of assistance, more information is available at njsharesgreen.org

 

Emergency Broadband Benefit - Starts May 12, 2021

Emergency Broadband Benefit - Starts May 12, 2021

Find broadband service providers offering the Emergency Broadband Benefit in our state or territory.

The Emergency Broadband Benefit is an FCC program to help families and households struggling to afford internet service during the COVID-19 pandemic. This new benefit will connect eligible households to jobs, critical healthcare services, virtual classrooms, and so much more.

"We need to use all available tools to get 100% of us connected in this country and this program is an essential part of making that happen."
-Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel

About the Emergency Broadband Benefit
The Emergency Broadband Benefit will provide a discount of up to $50 per month towards broadband service for eligible households and up to $75 per month for households on qualifying Tribal lands. Eligible households can also receive a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from participating providers if they contribute more than $10 and less than $50 toward the purchase price.

The Emergency Broadband Benefit is limited to one monthly service discount and one device discount per household.

Who Is Eligible for the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program?
A household is eligible if a member of the household meets one of the criteria below:

  • Has an income that is at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines or participates in certain assistance programs, such as SNAP, Medicaid, or Lifeline;
  • Approved to receive benefits under the free and reduced-price school lunch program or the school breakfast program, including through the USDA Community Eligibility Provision in the 2019-2020 or 2020-2021 school year;
  • Received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year;
  • Experienced a substantial loss of income due to job loss or furlough since February 29, 2020 and the household had a total income in 2020 at or below $99,000 for single filers and $198,000 for joint filers; or
  • Meets the eligibility criteria for a participating provider's existing low-income or COVID-19 program.


 


When Can I Sign Up for the Benefit?
As of May 12, 2021, eligible households will be able to enroll in the program to receive a monthly discount off the cost of broadband service from an approved provider. Eligible households can enroll through an approved provider or by visiting https://getemergencybroadband.org.

Check out the Broadband Benefit Consumer FAQ for more information about the benefit and please continue to check this page for program updates.

Which Broadband Providers Are Participating in the Emergency Broadband Benefit?
Various broadband providers, including those offering landline and wireless broadband, are participating in the Emergency Broadband Benefit.
Find broadband service providers offering the Emergency Broadband Benefit in our state or territory. ​

 

The Arc of New Jersey's COVID-19 Vaccine Video for Individuals with I/DD
The Arc of New Jersey graphic

The Arc of New Jersey's COVID-19 Vaccine Video for Individuals with I/DD

We are pleased to announce the availability of The Arc of New Jersey's COVID-19 Vaccine Video for Individuals with I/DD. It is a free, short video, prepared to help individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) know what to expect when they are able to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. The narrator of the video is Barbara Coppens, an extraordinary self-advocate who has received recognition in New Jersey and nationally, from The Arc of the United States, for her many years of advocacy on behalf of all individuals with I/DD. To view the video, please click here: https://vimeo.com/500239609/5dbb677d73

Dear Constituents and Stakeholders:
As the Murphy Administration continues working to vaccinate New Jersey against COVID-19, NJ Human Services’ Division of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing has developed a COVID-19 pre-vaccination communication card checklist for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing. The card can be used as a tool to help communicate vital information before receiving the COVID-19 vaccination. The pre-vaccination checklist is available in both English and Spanish. Individuals can still request communication access accommodations. Please feel free to share this far and wide.

To access these cards, please visit these links on DDHH's coronavirus webpage:



Thank you,
The DDS Team

Pre-vaccination Checklist
Lista de verificación pre-vacunación para vacunas COVID-19

The Mental Health Association in Atlantic County offers a variety of virtual wellness initiatives, support group meetings and discussion groups.

More than 30 virtual meetings are offered each week on a wide range of topics. Some groups and meetings are focused on wellness topics such as gratitude, stress management and coping with COVID. There are also groups for individuals living with anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder and hoarding disorder. Other groups are focused on people with similar experiences and needs such as parents, individuals age 18-30, veterans, survivors of suicide, the LGBTQ community, college students, individuals living with a disability and those experiencing grief and loss. The agency also provides a meeting in Spanish.

A complete list is available online www.mhaac.info and https://www.mhanj.org/virtual-support-and-learning-opportunities/. Meetings are offered 7 days a week at a variety of times of day.

For more information, call 609 652-3800 or find details on Facebook - Mental Health Association in Atlantic County or Instagram @mhaac.info.

In addition to the virtual groups, the Mental Health Association in New Jersey's Call Center is providing free emotional support for those affected by COVID. Call-in and text options are available. Text NJHOPE to 51684 or call 866-202-HELP (4357). This service is provided 7 days a week 8 am to 8 pm. ​