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Home Page > Debt and Purchases > Utilities > Help with Utility Bills

Temporary Relief for Utility Expenses (TRUE)

 

TRUE is a new, one-time assistance program for low- to moderate-income New Jersey families who are unable to pay their electric and natural gas bills because of an economic hardship. Income eligibility for the TRUE program ranges from 200% to 400% of the federal poverty level.

The Affordable Housing Alliance (AHA) manages the TRUE program. Information about the program is available on the AHA’s website.

Eligibility for the TRUE program overlaps with the NJ SHARES program, which also provides emergency utility assistance. But there are two key differences:

  • The maximum benefit under the TRUE program is higher: $750 for natural gas service and $750 for electric service. The maximum benefit from NJ SHARES is $700 for heat (gas, oil, propane, and electric heat) and $300 for electric service.
  • NJ SHARES allows applicants to receive assistance once a year if needed. TRUE only provides one-time relief.

NJ SHARES recommends that applicants first apply for TRUE program assistance before applying to NJ SHARES. There are two exceptions:

  • Customers whose utility service is currently disconnected, and
  • Undocumented immigrants with no documented individuals in their household.

Those customers cannot receive TRUE program assistance and should apply directly to NJ SHARES.

Who is eligible for TRUE?

Applicants for TRUE must meet all of the following requirements:

  • The customer must have a gas or electric account with a specified provider:
  • Annual income for the household must fall within the range listed in the TRUE Income Limits chart below.
  • The gas and/or electric account must be 45 or more days overdue, and/or the service provider must have issued a shut-off notice.
  • Four payments of $25 or more must have been made within the past six months on the account. Three of the payments must have been made at least 30 days before filing the TRUE application.
  • The customer must not have received USF or LIHEAP assistance in the 12 months before seeking TRUE assistance.
  • Utility service must be currently connected.

How do I apply?

You may apply online or in person to receive TRUE assistance. Your application may be processed more quickly if you apply in person at one of the service centers.

Please see TRUE Application (from the AHA website) to find your nearest service center, to apply online, or to learn more about the program.

What documents do I have to submit with the application?

According to the AHA, you will need to provide the following documents with your application:

  • Copies of the Social Security cards for members of your household age 18 and older.
  • A copy of the driver’s license of the primary applicant.
  • Copies of proof of gross income for all members of your household age 18 and over for four consecutive weeks. This means four paystubs if paid weekly, two if paid bi-weekly or bi-monthly. For Social Security income of any kind, you must provide a copy of the current awards letter. Pension, child support, family contribution, TANF, and GA are all considered sources of income, and documentation must be provided.

    For unemployment documentation, the intake agency may accept a printout from the unemployment website that shows a WBR (weekly benefit rate). For any questions about how to find this document, please call 732- 982-8710.

    If a member of the household age 18 or over does not have income, a signed statement claiming zero income must be provided.
  • If you own a home, a copy of your deed, property tax statement, or mortgage statement.
  • If you rent, a copy of your lease. If you do not have one, a letter from your landlord indicating the address and occupancy status must be submitted.
  • Copies of the past six months of payment history from each utility (previous six months of bills or payment history statement from the utility company showing a breakdown of payments made each month).
  • Copies of your electric bill and gas bill.

TRUE Income Limits
Annual income per child household size must fall within the following range:

Household Size
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
Min. Amount
Income
$21,672
$29,160
$36,636
$44,112
$51,600
$59,076
$66,552
$74,040
$81,516
Max. Amount
Income
$57,120
$69,853
$85,397
$103,034
$109,934
$116,834
$123,734
$130,634
$137,534

This article is from the July-August 2011 issue of Looking Out for Your Legal Rights®.

This information last reviewed 10/25/11.

 

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Low-income New Jerseyans can get free legal help by phone: call our toll-free hotline at 1-888-LSNJ-LAW (1-888-576-5529), Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Outside of New Jersey, please call 732-572-9100 and ask to be transferred to the hotline.