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The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is a federal block grant program that provides financial assistance to low and fixed-income individuals for fuel and utility bills, as well as low-cost weatherization and energy-related home repairs. The LIHEAP statute provides for two types of program funding – regular funds and emergency contingency funds.  Regular funds are allotted to states according to a formula prescribed in the statute. Contingency funds are allotted and released by the president and the secretary of Health and Human Services. Every year, Congress must appropriate funds for LIHEAP.
LIHEAP is administered by the states, with the states having maximum flexibility in directing program funds. In addition, state and local governments provide assistance through taxpayer-funded initiatives. Fuel funds and other charitable groups provide direct assistance, funded by donations, to those in need. Utilities help these customers through discounts, fee waivers, arrearage forgiveness, and efficiency/weatherization programs, funded by customers and stockholders.  

Funding Update
After many years of underfunding the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), Congress funded the program at $5.1 billion in FY2009 and FY2010.  Unfortunately, since then, funding for LIHEAP has been cut drastically – to  less than $3.4 billion in FY2014.  As a result of the economic downturn and the increase in poverty and unemployment, the number of low-income households eligible for LIHEAP in 2014 will continue to climb.

In March, the Obama Administration proposed only $2.8 billion for LIHEAP in the FY2014 budget. 

LIHEAP Recipients

According to a study by the National Energy Assistance Directors’ Association, LIHEAP recipient households are more vulnerable to temperature extremes since they are likely to have seniors, disabled members or children in the home.  More than 90 percent of LIHEAP households had at least one of these vulnerable household members.  The study also showed that these households face many challenges in addition to their energy bills, including unemployment, unhealthy home conditions, and medical issues. Many of the LIHEAP recipients faced significant medical and health problems in the past five years, partly as a result of high energy costs.  Nearly one third reported that they went without food, more than 40 percent sacrificed medical care, and one quarter had someone in the home become sick because the home was too cold.

AGA Position

Given the fiscal situation our Country faces, Congress will face difficult choices regarding the funding of critical programs. AGA will continue to support responsible levels of LIHEAP funding.

Take Action

Contact Congress about LIHEAP  

Participate in LIHEAP Action Day 
March 26, 2014 at the American Gas Association, 400 N. Capitol Street, NW, Washington, DC
LIHEAP advocates from all over the nation will descend on Washington to advocate for LIHEAP funding.  Stay tuned for registration information.


AGA Fact Sheet on LIHEAP
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities LIHEAP Analysis. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities published an analysis that argues that the Administration’s rationale for cutting the LIHEAP back to 2008 levels due to low energy costs is weak.  The analysis finds that along energy prices are lower this year the Department of Energy forecasts that next winter the prices will be back to their 2008 levels and the analysis also points out that the recession has greatly increase the number of low-income households eligible for LIHEAP.
State LIHEAP Fact Sheets  Download fact sheets on LIHEAP for all 50 states.
The LIHEAP Formula: Legislative History and Current Law , by Libby Perl, Specialist in Housing Policy, Congressional Research Service - July 6, 2010
The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP): Program and Funding, by Libby Perl, Specialist in Housing Policy Congressional Research Service - January 13, 2011

Letters of Support for LIHEAP from Members of Congress and Advocates
Are Your Elected Officials Champions of LIHEAP? 
Listed below is a collection of 2010, 2011 and 2012 letters from Senate and House members, Governors and the utility industry and advocacy communities on LIHEAP funding.  Please use this resource to review your elected officials’ stance on funding for LIHEAP.  

Video of George Coling, National Fuel Funds Network, discussing the program on CSPAN

Video of George Coling, National Fuel Funds Network, discussing the program on CSPAN


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