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NJ SHARES Receives $25 Million

Non-profit NJ SHARES, through its 240 agencies across New Jersey, last year provided grants of up to $1,000 to almost 20,000 moderate income NJ families, thanks in large part to AARP’s prior advocacy for state funding. The NJ families served all had good prior utility bill payment records before suffering financial emergencies, and all were about to lose their electricity or natural gas utility service from past due electric and/or gas utility bills. In fact, many were already living without utility service before being rescued by NJ SHARES grants.

Unfortunately, as has occurred every year for the past ten years, NJ SHARES in 2009 had to turn away tens of thousands of middle income NJ families who earned too much for low-income government assistance such as LIHEAP and yet had financial emergencies that resulted in the loss of their utility services. The results were significant suffering with a great potential for energy-related tragedies such as hypothermia, hyperthermia, and house fires from unsupervised burning candles or stoves.

On Friday, January 15th, at the AARP NJ state office, an important piece of state legislation, one which AARP NJ strongly supported, was signed into law by Acting Governor Stephen Sweeney. The new law will bring an additional $25 million in funding to NJ SHARES beginning this July 1st. Funding will come from the NJ Board of Public Utilities’ Societal Benefits Fund although there will not be any associated increase in the Society Benefits Fund amount embedded in NJ utility customers’ bills.

As a result of this additional $25 million in grant funding, 30,000 more additional moderate income families will be served by NJ SHARES and thus will avoid losing their electric service and/or gas hot water and heating service from past-due utility service shut-offs.

AARP thanks the legislature and Governor Corzine for their leadership that resulted in the passage of this important law.

LIHEAP: 1-800-510-3102 or

www.state.nj.us/dca/divisions/dhcr/offices/localagencies.html

NJ SHARES: 1-866-657-4273 or go to www.njshares.org

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