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National Telephone Discount Lifeline Awareness Week September 12th - 18th
NJ SHARES joins the Board of Public Utilities, the National Association of Regulatory Commissions and Verizon, NJ in celebration of Communications Lifeline and Link-Up America programs. Lifeline and Link-Up are federal programs that offer families discounts on their telephone monthly bills and reductions in the installation fees for families who cannot afford to pay the connection charges.
New Jersey’s enrollment in Lifeline is automatic for more than 100,000 low-income residents who are already enrolled in social service programs such as SSI, Medicaid, PAAD, LIHEAP/HEAP, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families/Work First New Jersey (TANF), Food Stamp Program and others. Attention to these programs during Awarness Week will help us incorporate many others, who because of financial hardship, do not have telephone service and may not be receiving the services to which they are entitled.
To sign up, customers should call NJSHARES at 1-888-337-3339 or visit www.njshares.org.
NJ SHARES Helps to Spread the Word about Medicare Assistance Program
NJ SHARES is working with the Community Health Law Project to spread the word about programs to help Medicare beneficiaries with their Part B and Part D premiums. Eligible individuals can get assistance paying their Part B premiums, a savings of $96.40 or $110.50 each month. In addition, the Low Income Subsidy (LIS) provides extra help to qualified low-income beneficiaries by paying the Part D monthly premium, the annual deductible, coinsurance and copays. Benefit levels vary by income. With LIS, there is no Part D coverage gap. For more information, visit www.chlp.org or call 888-838-3180.
LIHEAP Funding Outlook
As Autumn approaches, funding for the critically important Federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) remains uncertain. LIHEAP provides home heating and cooling assistance to low-income households, generally in the form of payments to energy vendors on behalf of the recipient. States have flexibility in administering their programs, including determining benefit amounts and eligibility requirements within the Federal guidelines. When and how much funding will be available – and how many households can be served with what size benefits – remain unknown.
The House Subcommittee on Appropriations recommended $5.1 billion – the same as the previous year. The Senate Appropriations Committee provided a recommendation for $3.3 billion, which aligns with the President’s budget request. With Congress heading to recess, they may need to pass a Continuing Resolution which may not be possible until after the November Election or until the 112th Congress is seated, causing further uncertainty.
Verizon and NJ SHARES Team Up to Fight Bullying in Schools
NJ SHARES is taking part in a new Verizon campaign to fight bullying in our communities. Faciliated by The Rocky Marciano World Foundation, the campaign encourages positive behavior among our youth and one another. “We’re Kickin’ It, across America, Nat’l Campaign” is an aggressive multi-level course of action to end bullying in every school across the country, while encouraging positive behavior. The campaign will involve school visits, as well as support for schools, guardians and the community. For more information, visit www.werekickinit.com, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
At NJ SHARES, the approach of Labor Day is a reminder that the winter heating season will soon be upon us. This heating season, we are again anticipating an influx of applications for energy assistance from those who have never sought help before.
For many hardworking New Jersey families, economic recovery is elusive, and they are finding themselves slipping into debt to their utility companies. The demographics of our typical client are noteworthy, in that the vast majority has some form of employment income, yet are in crisis when they apply for a NJ SHARES grant.
According to our annual program evaluation conducted by Applied Public Policy Research Institute for Study and Evaluation (APPRISE), of our clients:
• 58% had a child 18 or younger in the home
• 12% had a household member over 60
• 89% had employment income
• 96 % had income above the LIPHEAP standard
• 68% had income between 176% and 300% of the FPL
• 6% had their services shut off at the time they applied
• 39% had a shutoff date that had passed
• 19% had a past-due warning notice
NJ SHARES plays an important role in New Jersey’s energy safety net, helping those who do not qualify for Federal and State low income programs, and serving clients up to 400% of the Federal Poverty Level. No other program has that high of an income cap. Our goal, with help from our agencies, partners and friends, is to help households back on their feet, and to keep them out of other assistance programs. Thanks to all of you, NJ SHARES is ready to help these households for which there is no other safety net.
After a summer of heat waves, many families are still struggling with their high seasonal electric bills. As another heating season approaches, we value your support as we work to assist hard-working families to be self-sufficient again.