Washington, DC – In today’s fiscal year (FY) 2019 budget request to Congress, President Trump’s Administration repeated last year’s recommendation that the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) be eliminated.
The request is unwarranted, particularly from the perspective of energy assistance advocates. LIHEAP is regarded as a crucial program with vast bi-partisan support that provides temporary assistance to qualifying households, especially those with seniors, Veterans, individuals with disabilities or families with school-aged children, who are struggling with extreme poverty or financial shocks and cannot keep their utilities on during the extreme cold of winter or heat of summer.
“We are deeply disappointed with today’s recommendation,” said Campaign for Home Energy Assistance director Michael Bracy. “That being said, our organization and thousands of energy-assistance advocates across the nation will continue to support increased funding to the program. At its current levels, LIHEAP can only serve a small portion of families in need, and we will continue to work with key decision makers to spread awareness of the program’s impact across the nation and raise funding to a commensurate level.”
LIHEAP’s current funding levels support 6.7 million American households, but there are millions more who could receive assistance based on the program’s qualifications. The average LIHEAP grant is estimated to cover less than half of the average home heating/cooling costs for households, meaning that many low-income families and seniors have fewer resources available to meet other basic needs.
LIHEAP supporters have regularly called on Congress and the Administration to increase funding. Despite repeated requests for increased funding from the field and unwavering support from local communities and action agencies, federal support of the program has declined in recent years. Since FY2010, total funding for the program has decreased from $5.1 billion to $3.39 billion, where it has remained since FY2015.
The Campaign will continue to engage with policymakers on Capitol Hill and LIHEAP advocates across the country to educate individuals, families and lawmakers about the importance of LIHEAP for many low-income families. For the latest news and information on LIHEAP, visit www.liheap.org.
For a downloadable copy of this statement, click here.