Congress Allocates Most LIHEAP Funding in the History of the Program
Thus far in fiscal year 2021, the United States Congress has moved $8.25 billion in funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)—the most in the history of the program.
The need is very real. More than a quarter of those who lost jobs during the COVID-19 crisis reported skipping or needing to skip a utility bill payment. In some states, approximately one in three households is behind on utility bills.
LIHEAP is a small Federal program, but it has a multiplier effect. When struggling families can afford energy, they remain in their homes, children are in stable schooling and seniors and veterans maintain access to service providers.
On May 4, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released $4.5 billion in supplemental LIHEAP funding for FY21. This supplemental funding was passed as part of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 and the funds will remain available through September 30, 2022.
On April 26, more than 160 members of the U.S. House of Representatives signed a letter to the Chair and Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Committee saying:
“The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the importance of energy security to the forefront of the national consciousness. Supplemental funding for utility assistance provided by recent emergency stimulus bills will help address arrearages for families struggling due to pandemic-related unemployment. However, these temporary supplemental funds will not address the ongoing need of millions of low-income households that had trouble making ends meet before COVID-19. Funding LIHEAP at $4.7 billion in FY 2022 will ensure these low-income households do not once again fall through the cracks when the pandemic ends.”
While $4.7 billion is not full funding, it will ensure many more families, veterans, and disabled Americans will be able to afford heat in the winter and cooling in the summer.
LIHEAP helps to stabilize families and protects people from dying of exposure in their own homes in the winter, keeps electricity flowing to life-saving equipment for those with medical needs, and helps ensure that children do not have to complete their homework in the dark. It can prevent disconnection of service, help families maintain their housing, and restore dignity by helping customers pay bills in full and on time.
We thank the U.S. Congress for their support and express our deep gratitude to the thousands of energy advocates, state workers and volunteers that identify the need in their communities, request support and connect Americans with the resources that can help them stay in their homes.