DES MOINES, Iowa (WHO) – On Saturday, October 1st, applications will open for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), allowing households with a family member who is disabled or 60 years old or older to apply for assistance.

LIHEAP provides money for utility bills during the winter months to ensure that low-income households can stay warm.

IMPACT Community Action Partnership is a nonprofit organization that runs three LIHEAP application sites in Polk County. They will begin assisting Iowans with applications when their offices open on Monday.

Paula Arkema, the Health & Energy Coordinator at IMPACT Community Action Partnership, said that the need for LIHEAP has increased over the past couple of years.

“We hear from families on a regular basis that they are struggling and struggling in many areas and that includes paying for their utilities,” Arkema said. “Last program year the LIHEAP program actually served an increase of 15% of households from the year before so we anticipate those families going into this next heating season with a similar need”,

LIHEAP also protects households from having utility services cut off during the winter months.

“There’s this period of protection on their gas and electric accounts and so for any household that’s approved for the LIHEAP program their natural gas and electric accounts will be protected under a winter moratorium protection from November 1st through April 1st and that protection is so essential for families,” Arkema said.

Only households with a member 60 years of age or older, those who are disabled, and those in crisis can apply starting October 1st. Applications open up on November 1st for others on a first-come, first-serve basis.

To learn more about how to apply for LIHEAP and if you qualify visit IMPACT Community Action Partnerships website.