CROWN POINT | Low-income Hoosiers looking for ways to heat their homes this winter can turn to Indiana’s Energy Assistance Program for help.
An additional $28.8 million was directed to the program this year to boost assistance to qualifying households to pay heating bills. The money stems from a multi-state settlement Attorney General Zoeller entered into with the nation’s five largest banks over their foreclosure abuses and mortgage-servicing practices. Zoeller was in Crown Point on Wednesday to tout the program.
In 2011, Indiana’s Low Income Heating Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP, provided more than 197,800 households with an average benefit of $420 each, according to a news release. To support the program, state legislators created a new fund for the $28.8 million which will receive deposits of about $4 million per year.
“Low-income homeowners who were most at-risk to be foreclosed upon are also the most likely to have difficulty paying utility bills,” Zoeller said in a statement. “The banks and mortgage lending institutions that preyed upon borrowers and engaged in illegal practices are paying millions of dollars in settlement money to Indiana and the Legislature wisely directed these dollars into a fund where at-risk homeowners can be helped.”
The program is operated by local community action agencies with outreach offices in every county. For a list of agencies, visit www.in.gov/ihcda/files/CAPS.pdf . For more information, visit http://www.in.gov/ihcda/2523.htm .
Last year, Zoeller joined 48 other states and the federal government in the $25 billion settlement with Ally, Bank of America, Citi, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo. Indiana's overall share of the settlement was about $145 million with $100 million being directed to Hoosiers who lost their homes to foreclosure and to borrowers who seek to refinance their home loans. The Indiana Attorney General’s Office received $43.8 million, with $28.8 million dedicated to the energy assistance program and the rest committed to the Consumer Protection Division and Homeowner Protection Unit consistent with the terms of the multi-state settlement.