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Collins, Golden, & Reed Lead Call for Additional $500M for LIHEAP

As Congressional Negotiators Seek to Finalize FY23 Funding Bill

Washington, DC – As congressional negotiators seek to finalize a bipartisan agreement on funding the federal government for fiscal year 2023, Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), Congressman Jared Golden (D-ME), and Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) are leading efforts in Congress to include an extra $500 million in supplemental funds for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). 


LIHEAP is a federally funded program that helps low-income households with their home energy bills by providing payment and/or energy crisis assistance. 


Many Northeast residents are projected to see a significant increase in their utility bills this winter, with residential electricity prices in some states forecast to rise over 60 percent, propane up 40 percent, and natural gas prices up nearly 30 percent, resulting in higher home heating bills.  According to the National Energy Assistance Directors’ Association, the average cost to heat a home is expected to increase by 17.2 percent this winter to $1,208, up from $1,031 last season.


Given elevated energy prices forecast for this winter, the lawmakers say the emergency federal LIHEAP funding is needed to assists low-income households and seniors on fixed incomes pay their energy bills and stay safe during the winter.


Senators Collins and Reed and Congressman Golden, who are leading efforts to include $4 billion for LIHEAP in the fiscal year 2023 appropriations package making its way through Congress, already delivered $1 billion in emergency funding for LIHEAP in the short-term “continuing resolution” (CR) funding package that President Biden signed into law.  But with many families – particularly those in the Northeast -- facing a winter heating crisis, they are working with the Biden Administration on a bipartisan effort to deliver another $500 million for LIHEAP recipients.


“While we recognize the competing priorities you must balance, the number of households eligible for LIHEAP assistance continues to exceed available funding.  Meanwhile, the average cost of heating oil is nearly 70 percent higher than last year and natural gas is 20 percent higher, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.  As these prices go up, the purchasing power of LIHEAP’s appropriations goes down.  This leaves states in the position of making tough choices about the amount of assistance they will provide and the number of people they will serve with the limited funding available.  Ensuring that LIHEAP is well-funded will help guarantee that the program has the resources it needs to help as many eligible, low-income households and seniors as possible,” the Members of Congress wrote to the respective leaders of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees this week.


Under the CR passed earlier this year, HHS was able to advance states funding equal to 90 percent of their FY 2022 allocation.  As a result, Maine has received $42.5 million in federal LIHEAP aid to help vulnerable residents lower their home energy bills.


Additionally, Senators Collins and Reed also worked to successfully include a $500 million LIHEAP investment in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which President Biden signed into law last November.  $100 million of this LIHEAP funding will be released annually through 2026.


LIHEAP is administered by states and accessed through local Community Action Agencies.  Eligibility for LIHEAP is based on income, family size, and the availability of resources.


Senior citizens and those receiving Social Security Disability or SSI benefits are encouraged to apply as early as possible, but applications will be open to everyone through spring of 2023 — or until the funding is exhausted.


Click HERE for the full text of the letter.