Date Published: December 2013
Homeowners who meet ESG eligibility criteria may, under certain circumstances, receive utility payment assistance to cover the costs of utilities in the home that the individual/family owns.
While recipients can provide utility-only assistance, HUD expects that this will be rare. First, there are laws governing public utilities in many states that prevent utility companies from shutting off power to households during winter months and that may also require the utility company to offer payment plans to households that miss payments. Second, there may be other forms of utility assistance available to prevent utility shut-off, such as LIHEAP.
If staff confirms that neither of these conditions exists, however, utility-only assistance may be justified under certain circumstances. If the household is going to have to leave the housing due to a lack of utilities, can avoid literal homelessness by having utilities paid, and meets other ESG eligibility requirements explained below, then a household may be assisted under the Homelessness Prevention component with utility-only assistance.
Please note that in order for a household to be eligible for financial assistance under the Homelessness Prevention component, individuals or families must meet the criteria under the "at risk of homelessness" definition, or the criteria in paragraph 2, 3, or 4 (where the household does not also meet paragraph 1) of the "homeless" definition, AND have an annual income below 30 percent of the median family income for the area, as determined by HUD, at initial evaluation (§ 576.103). In some cases, these criteria include determining at intake whether an individual or family lacks the resources to retain permanent housing or obtain other permanent housing.
Finally, ESG is not intended to be simply an eviction prevention program; it is intended to be a part of a system-wide approach. In order to evaluate and coordinate services to the greatest extent possible, the ESG Interim Rule requires the following: