Little question exists but that low-income households frequently do not have sufficient household resources to consistently pay their utility bills in a full and timely fashion. Bill payment assistance resources are available to low-income customers through the federal LowIncome Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). LIHEAP, however, is constrained to paying only home energy bills. Moreover, LIHEAP is often budget constrained, thus limiting the time it is available, the population defined to be eligible for assistance, and the level of grants that are provided.
Pennsylvania’s public utilities can redress many of these shortcomings by LIHEAP by targeting specific programs to assist the working poor. It is increasingly evident that the inability to pay for home utility bills, whether those bills involve water/sewer, energy or trash service, is reaching into increasingly higher income households. The line between the “working poor” and the “middle class” is, in other words, becoming increasingly blurred when utility and shelter bills are concerned.