WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Jack Reed (D-RI), and Angus King (I-ME) today announced that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) will release an additional $302 million in funding through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).
Through this funding, Maine will receive an additional $3.4 million, in addition to the $35 million already allocated in October 2014. Rhode Island will receive an additional $2.46 million, in addition to the nearly $25 million already allocated.
“LIHEAP is one of the most effective tools to help low income seniors and less-fortunate families keep warm during the long, cold winter,” said Senator Collins. “This funding is welcome news and I am pleased that the Administration moved quickly to distribute the remaining funds to help some 50,000 people in Maine.”
“This additional funding will provide an important measure of relief to many Rhode Islanders in need and some added budget certainty to community organizations distributing the assistance,” said Senator Reed. “I am proud to have worked alongside Senator Collins to successfully secure this vital LIHEAP funding.”
“The release of these funds will be welcome news to thousands of low-income Mainers who, in the midst of a frigid Maine winter, worry every day about having to make the impossible choice between food, vital medications, or heat for their homes,” Senator King said. “This critical funding will go a long way in helping see them through to the spring, which is why I am so pleased the Administration will move to distribute the funds quickly.”
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. LIHEAP households are among the most vulnerable in the country. According to the National Energy Assistance Director's Association, more than 90 percent of LIHEAP recipients have at least one household member who is a child, elderly, or disabled, and 20 percent of households include at least one veteran.
Last year, Senators Collins and Reed successfully led an effort, supported by Senator King, to increase funding for LIHEAP by $169 million as part of the 2014 Consolidated Appropriations Act, which the President signed into law in January 2014. The (FY) 2015 Omnibus Appropriations Bill provided $3.39 billion in LIHEAP funding through September 30, 2015.
Senators Collins and Reed are currently leading a bipartisan coalition of Senators, including Senator King, in urging the President to provide Fiscal Year 2016 LIHEAP funding at no less than $4.7 billion.