Take a look at some real life stories of LIHEAP
from Clifton, of Missouri
Imagine sitting in a cold house watching the snowflakes fall and the thermostat plummets to below freezing temperatures. If you could, you would turn the heat on, but you can’t because your gas has been disconnected, now imagine being handicapped. For one handicapped Kansas City woman, she didn’t have to use her imagination because it was playing out in real-time for her.
Kansas City temperatures had been unseasonably warm for weeks, and with spring just around the corner, Kansas City area residents whose utilities had been disconnected felt they were on the home stretch to the end of winter.
Unfortunately, on Saturday, March 11, 2017, old man winter returned catching a lot of folks off guard. Balmy temps well above the 70s in February and early March led to a slew of disconnect notices being issued. For a lot of folks struggling to pay their utilities, the early exit of one season to the next can bring a sigh of relief and buy some time to seek assistance or get their finances in order.
Thanks to the LIHEAP program administered by the Community Action Agency of Greater Kansas City (CAAGKC), one handicapped Kansas City woman was able to stay warm in freezing temperatures. The Kansas City Police Department (KCPD) was alerted to the handicapped woman’s situation and they were the first responders. KCPD in turn reached out to CAAGKC for assistance and Outreach Supervisor, Stacey Washington, was able to make a home visit and get services restored to this woman’s residence.
It’s unimaginable to think of what might have happened if the police had been alerted a day later, and even more chilling to think what could happen to hundreds of individuals and families if there is no LIHEAP program. Last year CAAGKC’s LIHEAP program assisted 9,489 individuals and families with utility assistance. The LIHEAP program is helping to meet the basic needs of the handicapped, elderly, displaced workers, and families living in poverty.
Ms. Alexander of Owings Mills, MD was living the American dream: family, job, and home ownership. But after a divorce, she was forced to sell her home to focus on taking care of her ill son, even as she faced the loss of her job. The bills began to mount and she received a turn-off notice for her utilities. She couldn’t lose power. Her son has a chronic illness and needs special medical equipment to breathe.
“I’ve personally witnessed people encounter a sudden or unexpected incident that impacts their ability to pay bills,” said Ms. Alexander. “Having to choose between paying rent or mortgage on time versus other bills, and knowing things are going to snowball, is scary. Just because you live in a certain zip code doesn’t mean it can’t happen to you,” she added.
She had seen neighbors’ homes go dark before and realized they hadn’t moved — they too had been unable to pay their utility bill. Now, it was happening to her. Where could she find help?
“I think the Fuel Fund of Maryland is tremendously different from the other support agencies,” said Ms. Alexander. “To get a [return] phone call that same day in such a short time period was simply amazing.” The Fuel Fund team was able to apply the necessary funds and keep Ms. Alexander and her son from losing power.
“I will be forever grateful to the wonderful people at the Fuel Fund,” said Ms. Alexander, “and more importantly, to the generous donors who give donations out of the goodness of their hearts. You did not judge me when I was desperate for help, and for that I will always be grateful,” she said.
from Ms. Jennifer, California
Last winter my family had moved in a new place. We have never had a home with a fire place in it. With the expenses of moving and a month later our car breaking down and with the coldest winters we have ever felt. With the fire place being the only source of heat in the house We did not have the money to buy wood. We tried to just use blankets to cover up with but that was not working. My kids were still cold. I found out that Liheap provided wood Assistance. I called to see if I was able to get assistance and they said yes. Not even two days later I had my appointment. Let let know know that i was eligible for 2 cords of wood. The liheap people also had the wood delivered to my house we did not have to go pick it up.
Without Liheap my family would not have had heat in the home.
Please Save the program.
from Justine, of Missouri
I work for a nonprofit that helps keep low-income, medically vulnerable St. Louisans safe in their own homes from extreme temperatures. So many of the people we serve rely on LIHEAP to keep their utilities on and their homes habitable. We consider ourselves, in part, a homelessness prevention organization. Without the ability to heat their homes in winter, our clients will not be able to age in place but will have to move in with family (if they even have any). Our donors are incredible and we’re able to do so much, but we can’t do it alone. Our community, like many others, needs LIHEAP.
Ms. Andrea is a single mom in her early 50s who lives in the Baltimore metropolitan area. She could be your neighbor, and she’s a donor to the Fuel Fund of Maryland. When she fell upon difficult times, the Fuel Fund was there to help.
After she lost her job due to company downsizing, Ms. Andrea tried to make ends meet for herself and a child with a life-threatening chronic illness, with just unemployment benefits. A week before Christmas, her unemployment benefits were cut unexpectedly and she had no income or financial support.
“I had been unemployed for six months, working hard to get a job,” she said. “I never thought I would be in this position, and now I had to worry about losing my home and keeping my family and two dogs warm in an extreme cold winter. The meteorologists were talking about ‘polar vortex’ and ‘arctic freeze.’ I was scared,” added Ms. Andrea.
To stay warm, they hovered in one room with layers of clothes and jackets, and a small electric heater. Buying heating oil for the home was not an option when there wasn’t enough money to put food on the table. One day, a friend reminded her that she was a donor to the Fuel Fund of Maryland and she should call for assistance. She called, and two tanks of oil were delivered – ensuring her family was safe during their time of need.
“To me, this was like a miracle – a prayer being answered,” exclaimed Ms. Andrea. “You just don’t know what it is like to be without heat until you experience it for yourself. It is one thing to manage and work through tough times by and for yourself, but when other lives depend on you to keep them safe and protected, it is one of the most devastating feelings you can have.”
Ms. Andrea and her family found warmth during the coldest time of the year, thanks to the donors and supporters of the Fuel Fund of Maryland. Today, Ms. Andrea has a new job and her child and pets are doing well.
“I will always be grateful to the Fuel Fund of Maryland. You allowed me to concentrate on life and living instead of worrying about surviving.”
from Debbie, of California
Before the liheap program weatherized my home my bills were double. My kids are sick less often due to less drafts…Thank u for your help!!
from Rodney, of California
I have helped liheap residents with furnace repair and replacements fix their stoves also fixed their water heaters. I do this to save them on their utility bills but most of all to keep them safe, with carbon monoxide deaths on the rise heaters, stoves and water heaters have to be working properly, if the heater don’t work residents use the stove for heat and this causes carbon monoxide poisoning it’s a health and safety issue. The residents we take care of and this program employees a lot of people from Me the contractor, my 2 employees, the manufacturer of the systems and parts I use, the intackerrs, staff at the agency called PACE located in downtown Los Angeles we are all employed by this program also the residents are not only safe but they save on their utilities and are able to take that savings and spend it elsewhere to help the economy. Please save this program it benefits so many.
from Karen, of Connecticut
Each year, Operation Fuel, a non-profit committed to helping low income households in Connecticut afford their energy bills, produces a report of the energy affordability in our state. The following data points from our last study demonstrate the need for and the impact of LIHEAP in our state:
• In 2016, the aggregate gap for state households with income at or below 200% FPL was $399,010,402. This is not the total energy bill, but the dollar amount that exceeds the affordable level.
• Average amount that home energy bills exceed affordable bills in low income households in CT is $1,241.
• 322,000 households with incomes at or below 200% FPL fall in to the gap – nearly 25% of the total number of households in the state.
• The federal LIHEAP, the primary source of low income energy assistance, provides $85 million, or 21% of the aggregate gap.
• LIHEAP provides assistance to over 100,000 Connecticut households a year.
How Can I Help?
What are Members of Congress doing?
Thank you for taking action! 196 House Representatives signed the Dear Colleague letter supporting LIHEAP. Download the letter to see which representatives signed and be sure to thank them.
HHS LIHEAP Data Warehouse
Missouri: Analysis of 5 year LIHEAP grants
See here: MI-2016 5yr LIHEAP Analysis Handout, for research from Missouri Community Action Network compiling LIHEAP recipient information over a 5 year period.
Quote from Missouri CAN Executive Director Kurt Brewer
In a nutshell, over the past 5 years, nearly 80% of recipients utilized the program for short term situations. Only 4.4% of Missouri households received benefits every year. Of those, 59% were disabled households, and 73% were vulnerable households (elderly, disabled, or children age 5 and under).
Additionally, we know that the LIHEAP program opens the door to other programs. Once the immediate crises is abated, families are able to think about long-term goals to improve their situation (weatherization, employment & training, education, etc.).
Write your congressperson now to insist LIHEAP be restored to the budget.
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Please help families and vulnerable populations by contacting your representatives and asking them to protect LIHEAP and continue to fund this critical program in the FY18 budget.
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#SaveLIHEAP on Twitter
NEUAC also has initiated the hashtag #SaveLIHEAP on Twitter. When posting or retweeting, please use this hashtag or #LIHEAP to keep the conversation going.
Tell us your LIHEAP story
Please share your LIHEAP story so we can quickly spread the word: Tell Us Your Story.
Campaign for Home Energy Assistance White Paper
The Campaign for Home Energy Assistance this week released its 2017 LIHEAP White Paper — Investing in LIHEAP: Assessing the Impact of Economic Stressors on the Home Energy Crisis (download the PDF via link)
State by State LIHEAP data
Use this information to contact your representatives! FY2018 state-by-state data on LIHEAP eligibility, funding and usage: LIHEAP State Sheets
LIHEAP Talking Points
- Download these talking points for LIHEAP
- New: Talking Points, more key data. (thank you, NEADA!)
LIHEAP story from California: A young mother of three lived in an older all-electric home and had their electricity shut off due to a past-due bill of about $800. She worked full time making minimum wage and her husband worked as a seasonal laborer. With no electricity, the family could not heat their home, access hot water, or operate appliances. LIHEAP was able to assist the family by paying their past due bill to get the electricity turned back on. She was also referred to the County’s Weatherization Program, which assists families in making their homes more energy efficient.
All Parties Letter
Sign the 2018 All Parties Letter on behalf of your organization, which supports our request for federal LIHEAP funding. As of April 12th, we have 1,081 organization signatures!
Katrina Metzler, Executive Director of NEUAC shares her personal LIHEAP story.
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be sure to hashtag it #SaveLIHEAP #LIHEAP