October 18, 2019

Shaheen & Hassan Call for Quick Distribution of LIHEAP Assistance

With Winter Approaching, Bipartisan Group of 35 Senators Seeks Speedy Delivery of Home Heating Funding to Those in Need

LIHEAP Provides Heating Assistance to More than 28,000 Granite Staters

Shaheen, a Senior Member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, has Repeatedly Protected & Boosted Funding for LIHEAP Assistance

(Washington, DC) – As state agencies prepare their Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) plans for the upcoming winter months, U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) sent a letter this week with a bipartisan group of Senators led by Jack Reed (D-RI) and Susan Collins (R-ME) to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), urging the Department to release funds for LIHEAP as quickly as possible under the current continuing resolution.

In their letter, the Senators urge the Department to release LIHEAP funds without delay and at as high a level as possible under the continuing resolution.

LIHEAP is a federally funded program that provides eligible low-income households with help paying a portion of their heating and utility bills.  Eligibility is based on a household’s combined income as well as the number of residents.  As a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, ensuring Granite State families and seniors have access to heating and energy assistance has been a top priority for Senator Shaheen. Shaheen has historically saved and boosted funding for LIHEAP, which President Trump’s budget proposals have repeatedly sought to eliminate. LIHEAP provides assistance to more than 28,000 Granite Staters, many of them families, seniors and people with disabilities.

The Senators wrote in part, “LIHEAP is the main federal program that helps low-income households and seniors with their energy bills, providing critical assistance during the cold winter and hot summer months. This funding has been an indispensable lifeline during challenging economic times, helping to ensure that recipients do not have to choose between paying their energy bills and paying for other necessities like food or medicine.  On average, low-income families and seniors spend a higher proportion of their income on energy, and for many states, October marks the start of the heating season, creating an additional constraint on these household budgets.”

Low-income, elderly, and those with disabilities can get help paying their winter heating bills by applying for LIHEAP through their local Community Action Agency.  Benefit amounts are based on each household’s income level, family size, whether they live in subsidized or non-subsidized housing, and the type of fuel used for heating.

The Senators concluded their letter by reiterating the need to provide certainty to states that LIHEAP funding will be ready and available to be disbursed to American families, which is particularly important as the coldest months approach.

The letter was also signed by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Bob Casey (D-PA), Christopher Coons (D-DE), Catherine Cortez-Masto (D-NV), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), John Hoeven (R-ND), Angus King (I-ME), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Ed Markey (D-MA), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Patty Murray (D-WA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Tina Smith (D-MN). Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Ron Wyden (D-OR).

The full text of the letter follows:

 

The Honorable Alex M. Azar, II     
Secretary
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
330 C St SW
Washington, D.C. 20416

 

Dear Secretary Azar:

 

As state agencies prepare their Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) programs for the winter, we respectfully request that the Department of Health and Human Services release LIHEAP funds as quickly and at as high of a level as possible under the current continuing resolution. 

 

LIHEAP is the main federal program that helps low-income households and seniors with their energy bills, providing critical assistance during the cold winter and hot summer months. This funding has been an indispensable lifeline during challenging economic times, helping to ensure that recipients do not have to choose between paying their energy bills and paying for other necessities like food or medicine.  On average, low-income families and seniors spend a higher proportion of their income on energy, and for many states, October marks the start of the heating season, creating an additional constraint on these household budgets.

 

As states begin to provide assistance for this winter, it is critical that they have the resources to assist low-income households and seniors as soon as possible.  Therefore, we request that you quickly release LIHEAP funds and at as high of a level as possible in order to allow states and low-income households to prepare for the upcoming season.

 

We look forward to continuing to work with you on this critical program, and thank you for your attention to our concerns and those of our constituents.

Sincerely,

 

 

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