Having Trouble Paying Your Energy Bill?

There are a variety of energy assistance resources available to low-income households. You can get help paying in emergent situations like a 24 hour disconnect notice or more long-term assistance like a monthly discount on your energy bill or cost-saving education.

Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP): The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is a federally funded program that provides energy assistance for eligible low-income households. There are several portions of the program ranging from one-time financial assistance for an energy bill, to free weatherization upgrades, to budget counseling. In 2020, funding for this program was expanded under the congressional CARES Act, which aims to assist those affected by COVID-19.

California Alternate Rates for Energy (CARE) Program: Save 20-35% every month on your electric or natural gas bill. If you are already enrolled in other public assistance programs, such as Medicaid, WIC, Food Stamps/SNAP, TANF, or SSI, you likely also qualify for the CARE program. To apply, contact your utility company.

Family Electric Rate Assistance (FERA) Program: If you are low income, but don’t qualify for CARE and your household has 3 or more people, you may be eligible for FERA. Those who qualify for FERA discounts receive an 18% discount on their electricity bill. This program is available to customers of Southern California Edison, San Diego Gas and Electric Company, and Pacific Gas and Electric Company. Contact your utility company for information.

Energy Savings Assistance (ESA) Program: Those who qualify for CARE also meet the income guidelines for ESA. Qualifying households can receive free weatherization services and amenities such as energy-efficient appliances, low-flow showerheads, insulation, door repairs, and more.

For more information, call 211 or visit the California Department of Community Services & Development website at www.csd.ca.gov/Pages/LIHEAPProgram.aspx.

Low Income Earners May Qualify for Extra Money on Your Tax Return.

The Earned Income Tax Credit is a tax break for low- to moderate-income families. In California, if you worked in 2020 and made under $30,000, you may be eligible for the California Earned Income Tax Credit (CalEITC). If you qualify for the CalEITC and have children under the age of 6, you may also be eligible for the Young Child Tax Credit, which would give you more money on your return.

To qualify, you must:
– Have taxable earned income
– Have a valid social security number or individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN) for you, your spouse, and any qualifying children
– Not use “married/RDP filing separate” if married
– Live in California for more than half the year

For full details about qualification requirements, the amounts you may be eligible for, and details on how to file, visit www.ftb.ca.gov/file.

Gifts of Love to Share for Valentine’s Day

What’s better than sharing some love to celebrate Valentine’s Day? Sharing that love in ways that don’t break the bank! Here are some of our ideas about how to express your affection from the heart instead of your wallet.

“In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love.” — Mother Theresa

Acts of Service – One of the five “love languages” that people use to express and receive love, Acts of Service are thoughtful gestures as physical actions. This can be as simple as running an errand or completing a household chore that your loved one typically handles. It is a way of easing their burdens and can make them feel more loved and cared for.

“Love is a two-way street constantly under construction.” — Carroll Bryant

Cards and Phone Calls – With the ongoing pandemic, many of us are still not able to see our loved ones as much as we want. Even if you can’t see someone in person, taking time out of your day to call or send a card lets them know you’re thinking about them and can make a big difference.

“Love builds bridges where there are none.” — R. H. Delaney

Show Yourself Some Love – Take some time to care for yourself. Maybe check out a book or movie you’ve been interested in for free from your local library and enjoy a night in. Dust off that hobby you’ve been neglecting. Take some extra care while cleaning to bring the greater peace and satisfaction of a tidy space. Whatever you do, remember that you deserve love too and caring for yourself can be an act of love.

Cities and Counties Provide Tremendous Services for Residents

Nowadays, almost every city and county offers a variety of valuable services and resources for individuals and families of all ages at little to no cost to local residents. From Meals on Wheels or exercise classes, to local libraries with computers for public use and movies available for checkout. Most jurisdictions also have parks, recreational facilities, or even classes for the entire community to enjoy.  

Visit your city and county websites for detailed information on programs and services available locally, including referrals for specialized services such as mental health care, affordable housing and much more.  We recommend checking your county’s official website first.

Orange County has a brochure outlining services, “At Your Service – A Guide to Agencies and Departments”.  Visit www.ocgov.com/about-county.

For Riverside County information visit www.rivco.org/about-county

For San Bernardino County information on services and to identify cities in the county visit: www.sbcounty.gov/main/pages/cities.aspx