The South faced an overlap of one season running into the next as summer moves into full swing, with some households just now dealing with winter heating bills past due with the moratorium ended and already racking up new ones under summer heat.
In Georgia, ABC Affiliate WTVM Channel 9 shared the welcome news with Georgia residents state-wide that extra LIHEAP funds were still available to help through the state’s Enrichment Services Program, while at the same time, news came over the wire that beginning May 1st, summer cooling assistance would be available to Atlanta residents as well as those around the rest of the Peach Picker state. Meanwhile, the Partnership for Community Action announced that “as one-time help with heating bills comes to an end, help with cooling bills begin,” with PCA director Ashley Blount “this is a separate program from the heating program. This means if you have received heating assistance you are still eligible for cooling assistance. We will be opening for the priority population which is limited to elderly households, 65 years and older, medically homebound, and life-threatening crisis clients first.”
News was not so good back East for Massachusetts residents after newly-elected Governor Charlie Baker announced he’d only be releasing $11 million of the total of $30 million, inspiring a strong rebuke from both the House Speaker Robert DeLeo and House Ways and Means Chairman Aaron Michlewitz, who in a joint statement encouraged “on behalf of the House…the Baker Administration to release the full $30 million the Legislature appropriated, and the Governor signed, for LIHEAP. These are critically important funds to support some of the most vulnerable families in the Commonwealth.” The protests, which soon grew into widespread opposition around the State Legislature and media, caused the Governor to order another $8 million released for a total of $19 million of the total allotment. 5
Across the country in the Midwest, the Citizen’s Utility Board announced passage of the HEAT Act, which among other provisions protects “Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funds from supplier overcharges, making sure the money available can help as many people as possible.” 6