Free Tax Preparation
The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program offers free tax help to people who generally make $57,000 or less, persons with disabilities, the elderly and limited English speaking taxpayers who need assistance in preparing their own tax returns. IRS-certified volunteers provide free basic income tax return preparation with electronic filing to qualified individuals.
Matched Savings Opportunity
An individual development account (IDA) is a type of savings account designed to help struggling, working individuals and families save in order to acquire or invest in an asset. People use IDAs to start or grow a business, pay for education, buy a home, or make another qualified purchase.
Water, Electric & Gas Utility Assistance
The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is designed to assist low wage earning households. EAP provides a one-time annual benefit that helps pay for the high cost of heating your home in winter. Additional assistance may be applied if you have received a disconnection notice or are about to get disconnected. However, an EAP benefit will not cover all of your annual heating and electrics costs, so you should continue to pay your bills regularly.
NWICA provides EAP services in Lake, Porter, Jasper, and Newton Counties.
Benefits to household and community:
- Provides eligible households with a one-time payment to the energy provider(s).
- Provides energy savings education to help reduce energy burden.
- Reduces potential Health & Safety risks associated with the use of unsafe heating approaches and exposure to extremely cold temperatures.
You can apply for an energy assistance benefit for Program Year 2022 from October 1, 2021 until May 16, 2022.
October 1, 2021: Applications begin to be accepted online.
November 1, 2021: In person appointments begin. Appointments are not required to apply, you can print the application and/or pick up and/or drop off from any intake site location. Benefit notifications to applicants and vendors begin.
December 1, 2021: Energy moratorium begins. Eligible EAP clients cannot be disconnected from electricity and heating service.
March 15, 2022: End of Energy moratorium protection.
May 15, 2022: Last day to apply for EAP and Water assistance for 2021-2022 funding cycle.
The amount of assistance a household receives is based on a matrix scoring system. Points are earned based on the number of members, total income, dwelling type, heat source, and at-risk factors (elderly, those who are disabled and age of children).
Indiana households that make 60% of the state median income (60 SMI) or less may qualify for these benefits. See table below for a detailed breakdown of income qualifications. If you are unsure, we encourage you to contact us.
|Household Size||One Month||Three Months|
It may take 55 days to determine if you are eligible, and after your benefit has been awarded it may take an additional 30 days for the utility company to process your benefit. Please continue to pay your utility bills while waiting for your EAP benefit to appear on your account.
If you are receiving a direct pay benefit, it may take up to 120 days, or four months, from the date of your benefit approval for your payment to be processed and mailed to you. Please do not follow up on your benefit if 120 days has not passed yet.
Once you are approved for LIHEAP, you may be enrolled in other programs through your utility provider. Be sure to keep an eye out for notifications.
The Moratorium law (Indiana Code 8-1-2-121) states that from December 1st through March 15th of any year, a regulated utility company may not turn off residential utility service to any customer who is eligible for and who has applied for the Energy Assistance Program. This includes utilities that are electric or gas, including municipally owned, privately owned, or cooperatively owned utilities. Moratorium protection applies once a household submits an application and allows the Local Service Provider time to determine eligibility, so please inform your utility provider if you have submitted an application for assistance and you are scheduled for disconnection.
Home Updates that Reduce Energy Use
The Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) involves low-cost improvements, such as adding insulation in homes and air sealing to save energy. WAP takes the “whole house weatherization” approach that analyzes all of the building systems—the building exterior, heating and cooling systems, electrical system, and electric baseload appliances—through the completion of an in-home energy audit.
Our weatherization program is all about safety. Many homes receiving WAP are older homes and may need repairs. The WAP checks the exterior of the building, and major energy systems to ensure there are no occupant health or safety concerns before installing any energy efficiency measures.
To apply for the WAP program, you should apply for utility assistance and check the “WX” box on the application, indicating that you wish to apply for the WAP program. NWICA only administers WAP in Lake County.
If you are a quality contractor families in Lake County need your help. Submit RFP here.
Supportive Services for Veteran Families
The Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program house Veteran families experiencing homelessness and to prevent homelessness for those at imminent risk of losing their housing. It is the first homeless prevention and rapid re-housing program administered by Veterans Administration and the first program designed to serve Veterans with families. SSVF provides temporary payments on behalf of Veterans to cover rent, utilities, security deposits and moving costs.
Here What Our Veterans Have to Say:
NWICA has joined the United Way of Northwest Indiana‘s Level Up initiative- designed to help Northwest Indiana families attain greater financial stability. The Level Up path to stability includes access to job training/certification and employment support for people seeking better paying jobs and access to financial management coaching, quality child care, and basic needs supports. Our navigators guide clients on establishing financial and career development goals while providing support and service referrals to overcome existing barriers, such as accessing child care, emergency car repairs, and paying past due rent/mortgage or utility bills.
Community Loan Center
This program is anticipated in 2022. We will offer workplace loans through payroll deductions throughout Northwest Indiana.