Even when fully funded at $5.1 billion, LIHEAP only reaches a small portion – about one-fifth – of Americans who urgently need assistance to heat their homes,
Washington, D.C. — The American Gas Association (AGA) today called on members of Congress and the administration to increase funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), a critical lifeline for low-income Americans struggling to heat and cool their homes. The program provides supplemental aid to these hard-working Americans so they are not faced with the dire choice to either “heat or eat” with the onset of harsh winter weather.
President Obama has proposed a funding level of $3.3 billion for LIHEAP for fiscal year (FY) 2011– nearly $2 billion below the current level and far less than what is needed to reach low-income families during tough economic times.
“Even when fully funded at $5.1 billion, LIHEAP only reaches a small portion – about one-fifth – of Americans who urgently need assistance to heat their homes,” said David N. Parker, AGA president and CEO. “Consequently, and regrettably, the president’s proposed level of funding for next year falls woefully short.”
Natural gas utilities play a major role in providing more than $2 billion annually in program assistance to needy families. Many states also supplement LIHEAP with their own fuel assistance programs. But in spite of these efforts, energy assistance to those in need is still inadequate.
In February, AGA lauded Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass) for introducing the “Energy Assistance for American Families Act,” which would increase the authorized funding level of LIHEAP to $7.6 billion per year for fiscal years 2011 to 2014.
“We urge the president and Congress to follow Representative Markey’s lead and to strengthen LIHEAP immediately,” said Parker. “This is both an economic and a moral issue. In these challenging financial times, Americans need this vital safety net.”