Frequently Asked Questions
Who is behind the Neighbor Helping Neighbor Fund?
Our board of directors is made up of people from the Community Action Agencies (CAAs) that deliver Low Income Home Energy Assistance (LIHEAP), and four electric and natural gas utilities in the state. The CAAs take the applications and determine who is eligible for a grant. The electric and gas utilities ask their customers for contributions to the fund, match these contributions up to a predetermined amount, and pay for all of the fund’s administrative expenses.
Who is eligible for assistance from Neighbor Helping Neighbor?
Customers are eligible if they have a disconnect notice from their electric or natural gas utility (or have broken a payment arrangement with the utility), who suffer some sort of financial hardship or emergency, and who do not qualify for other forms of energy assistance such as Low Income Home Energy Assistance (LIHEAP).
Why does Neighbor Helping Neighbor help these families?
These families would not qualify for other forms of assistance and may lose their utility service because they are facing a hardship or an emergency. They could be recently unemployed, or they may face large medical bills that are not covered by insurance. They may also have had weather-related damage to their homes. The utilities do not make any determinations on eligibility. They let the Community Action Agencies decide whether the customer has met the eligibility requirements.
Why should I contribute?
These customers, possibly your own family members or neighbors, fall through the cracks of the social service safety net. They may earn too much to qualify for other energy assistance programs like LIHEAP, but their hardship makes paying their electric or gas bills very challenging. No other program serves this need, and, during many months of the year, there are no other options for assistance.
Where does my contribution go?
Because the natural gas and electric utilities in the state pay for the administrative costs of the program, every penny of your contribution goes to help someone who faces disconnection of his or her utility service and has no where else to turn for help.
Is my contribution tax deductible?
Yes. Neighbor Helping Neighbor is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) charitable corporation, so your contribution is tax deductible up to the maximum extent allowed by the law.
How do I contribute?
There are a variety of ways to contribute to the Neighbor Helping Neighbor Fund:
By clicking Contribute Now, you will be transferred to a secure site where you can use your credit card to make a contribution.
Another option is to mail a check to:
Neighbor Helping Neighbor Fund
P.O. Box 3804
Manchester, NH 03105-3804
- You can also make a contribution through your utility bill payment. If you pay exactly $1 over the amount of your utility bill, your natural gas or electric provider will automatically allocate that dollar to Neighbor Helping Neighbor. If you wish to make a regular contribution of more than $1 through your utility bill, contact your natural gas or electric provider’s customer service department to make arrangements to have a Neighbor Helping Neighbor line item added to your bill.
What are the benefit amounts that one can receive from the NHN Fund?
At this time, the maximum amount is $300 every two years for a customer who has electric heat or has both natural gas and electric service. If a customer does not have electric heat and has service from only one participating utility, then the maximum benefit is $200 every two years. If a customer does not receive the maximum amount, they can apply for a second payment if they meet the same criteria at another time in the two-year period.
Does the customer receive the payment?
No, the payment is made directly to the utility on behalf of the customer.
Is the payment made the same day?
No, the payment is made once a month, typically at the beginning of the month after the benefit has been authorized. However, the utilities make notes in the client’s account to the effect that payment is coming and to continue providing service.
What is a financial hardship?
A financial hardship is something that happens in a household that is out of the ordinary and that makes it difficult for a customer to pay his or her utility bills.
Aren’t there rules preventing utilities from shutting off a customer’s service in the winter?
Yes, but not entirely. Between November 15 and April 1, natural gas and electric utilities in the state are prevented by New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission (NHPUC) rules from shutting off a customer’s utility service for nonpayment, unless the customer’s overdue amount exceeds $225 for electricity, $125 for natural gas, or $450 for heat (which includes natural gas or electric heat). Customers over age 65 cannot be disconnected without written permission from the NHPUC. NHN helps prevent service interruptions for these customers with high overdue amounts. We also assist other eligible customers who are protected by “Winter Rules,” but who continue to fall behind in their bill payments and face a service interruption when the rules expire.
How much funding does NHN have, and how many New Hampshire residents are helped each year?
Historically, NHN has raised about $250,000 and assisted some 1,200 families each year. Frankly, this funding level has never adequately served the need for assistance. Our goal is to double our funding amount in order to serve more customers and provide a more realistic benefit amount—one that helps the customer keep current with utility bills, rather than just keeping the lights or heat on for another month.
Where can I apply for a grant?
Do all the utilities in New Hampshire participate in this program?
No, the participating utilities are Unitil Electric, Eversource Energy, and Liberty Utilities.
Where did the name “Neighbor Helping Neighbor” come from?
This program was called the Neighbor Helping Neighbor Fund in keeping with the New Hampshire tradition of neighbors helping each other. In this case, instead of bringing over a pot of soup or a casserole, you donate to a fund that will assist your neighbor in their time of need.