Billions to Help Low- Income Residents Pay Heating Bills

Pol: Assistance Pgm. Also Benefits Economy

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand announced that the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is set to receive $3.4 billion as part of the Senate’s 2014 omnibus appropriations bill.

LIHEAP funds are critical in helping millions of Americans who struggle with their energy bills during the winter season. More than one million New Yorkers rely on LIHEAP to heat their homes during the winter.

“No New York family should ever be left in the cold,” Gillibrand said. “But with bitter cold temperatures and rising energy costs, families and seniors who are struggling in this tough economy can’t afford to heat their homes. This funding is a lifeline for New Yorkers who rely on it so they can stay warm this winter.”

Gillibrand sent a letter in October to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius urging her to release LIHEAP funds as quickly and at as high a level as possible. Without the federal resources, households nationwide may have been subject to cuts in federal heating aid during the remaining winter months.

LIHEAP is the main federal program that helps low-income households and seniors with their energy bills, providing vital assistance during both the cold winter and hot summer months.

Even though the number of households eligible for the program continues to exceed those receiving assistance, Gillibrand noted, this funding has been a lifeline during the economic downturn and rising energy costs, helping to ensure that people do not have to choose between paying their energy bills and paying for food or medicine.

Every dollar invested in LIHEAP generates $1.13 in economic activity, according to economists Mark Zandi and Alan S. Blinder.

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