Changes coming to Heating Assistance Program
The Division of Public Assistance is making a few minor revisions to the Heating Assistance Regulations to clarify language for expedite time frame for crisis application processing, to provide clarification for utility deposits and to update the definition of subsidized housing. These changes are as follows:
• Revisions to 7 AAC 44.030 and 7 AAC 44.220 changes the processing time for crisis applications from 18 business hours to 18 hours.
• 7 AAC 44.040 and 7 AAC 44.230 are revised to clarify that the utility deposit is only for subsidized housing.
• Amendments to 7 AAC 44.900 clarify the definition of Subsidized Housing. Federal law instructs the state to treat homeowners and renters the same, so removing the word “rental” from the definition broadens the definition to include any type of subsidized housing. Also, in response to changes in how AHFC issues subsidized housing benefits, some households may be paying more than 30 percent of their income for housing, which is not allowed under current regulations.
Rather than using a percentage of income as a factor, the revision to this section establishes that an applicant must have at least $200 a year in out-of-pocket costs in order to be aligned with 7 AAC 44.040 (a)(1)(B)(3).
The definition further clarifies that the Heating Assistance program does not cover those subsidized tenants whose heat is included in the rent. It also includes applicants with a mortgage subsidy that pay all their own utilities with no utility allowance or subsidized renters that may have a small portion of their heat subsidized, but still pay more than $200 a year in out of pocket expenses for heat, over and above their utility (heat) allowance.
These changes will broaden the scope of applicants eligible to apply for the program and ensure crisis applications are processed as expeditiously as possible.
Debra James is the Heating Assistance Program Eligibility Office Manager. She can be reached at 907-465-3060.