Collins, Reed Lead Bipartisan Group Urging HHS Secretary to Quickly Release Critical Federal Home Heating Aid

40 Senators call on HHS Secretary to release LIHEAP funds to help local communities prepare for the coming winter season

WASHINGTON, D.C. – October 26, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) — In an effort to help millions of low-income families and seniors on fixed incomes afford their energy bills this coming winter, a bipartisan group of 40 U.S. Senators, led by Susan Collins (R-ME) and Jack Reed (D-RI), are calling on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to quickly release as much federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) heating aid as possible.

Yesterday, the Senators sent a bipartisan letter to HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell, urging her to release LIHEAP funds without delay and at as high a level as possible.

In their letter, the Senators underscored that, “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.”

Preserving LIHEAP funding is a perennial bipartisan priority for Reed and Collins, and together they have pushed back on attempts in recent years to pare back the funding appropriated for this critical program.

LIHEAP is a federal grant program that provides states with annual funding to operate home energy assistance programs for low-income households. Eligibility for LIHEAP is based on income, family size, and the availability of resources.

The text of the letter follows:
October 8, 2014
Dear Secretary Burwell:

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 the relevant state agencies 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.

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