The American Public Power Association recently joined with 14 other national trade associations in urging lawmakers to protect maximum funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.
LIHEAP would see a $11 million funding increase to $4.011 billion under a draft fiscal year 2024 appropriations bill released by the House Committee on Appropriations on July 13 that was scheduled to be considered on July 14 by the House Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies.
The bill also continues the practice of limiting year-over-year fluctuations in state LIHEAP funding allocations with language that no grantee will receive less than 97 percent of the prior year’s allocation.
“More than five million households depend on LIHEAP each year to remain connected to power for air conditioning or fuel their homes,” APPA and the other groups said in a July 13 letter to House and Senate Appropriations Committee leaders.
“Residential cooling is increasingly important as temperatures reach dangerous highs across the country. Most recently, an excessive heat warning has been issued for 76 million Americans across 15 states, where the heat index has reached as high as 120 degrees. Nine people died during the current Texas heat dome in Webb County alone,” the groups said, noting that all were between the ages of 60 and 80, “indicative of the urgent need to protect the homebound and older Americans from the dangers of heat stress.”
LIHEAP “is a lifeline for those in economic distress struggling with basic needs. It protects access to power and fuel, prevents disconnection of service, and contributes to housing and family stability. More than 70 percent of LIHEAP recipient households include one or more vulnerable persons, including seniors, disabled persons, and families with young children,” the letter said.
The groups pointed out that many states also use a portion of the LIHEAP funds to provide home weatherization measures, delivering lower energy bills and rendering homes safer and healthier.
“These services are invaluable when extreme heat threatens households with unsafe indoor air temperatures,” the groups said.
“Those same funds will protect families this winter when frigid temperatures arrive. Surviving at the lowest levels of poverty, LIHEAP recipients make heartbreaking choices every day between food, medicine, or utilities.”
“Congress is facing very difficult budget decisions. However, drastic cuts to LIHEAP are not the answer. Please consider these vulnerable populations as you approach the appropriations process, and protect funding for LIHEAP,” APPA and the other groups said.