OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The oppressive heat will return soon and with everything costing more these days, help is on the way for Oklahomans struggling to pay their utility bills.

Applications are now open for DHS’s summer cooling assistance program.

“We receive letters all the time from low-income Oklahomans to let us know how vital this program is to them,” said Matthew Conley, Administrator of DHS’s Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program. “Elderly folks, folks with young children, when the heat rises they need the cooling just to stay alive.”

The program, also known as LIHEAP, opens twice a year to qualifying Oklahomans, helping them pay one energy bill up to $150, keeping them cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

“As long as they apply and they are eligible, we can apply a payment directly to their utility provider,” Conley said. 

It’s a service that’s vital to many low-income Oklahomans.

“It can be a life-threatening situation if you cannot cool your medicine or run your air conditioner or fans or keep electricity going to power your machines that keep folks alive,” said Conley. 

The program is funded by the federal government.

This year, the budget is $23 million.

“Once it’s spent, we have to shut down the program and take it off the website because all of the funds have run out,” Conley said.

Conley says every dollar will be used this year for Oklahomans in need.

“It’s really tough right now,” he said.

That $150 can also be used to cover the cost of repairing or purchasing cooling equipment.

Those in need of help can apply at OKDHSLive.org

The maximum monthly gross income allowed per household size is as follows:

  • 1 person: $1,396
  • 2 people: $1,888
  • 3 people: $2,379
  • 4 people: $2,871
  • 5 people: $3,363
  • 6 people: $3,855
  • 7 people: $4,347
  • 8 people: $4,839

This year, 35,000 eligible Oklahoma households have been pre-authorized for LIHEAP.

They have been notified by mail.