2019 All Parties Letter
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An Open Letter to Congressional Appropriations Committees In Support of the
Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program
Dear House and Senate Appropriators:
The National Energy and Utility Affordability Coalition and our national, state, and local partners – including charitable organizations, energy providers, fuel funds, faith-based organizations, trade associations, and others – are writing to urge you to make the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) a top priority in the FY19 Labor-HHS-Education funding bill.
Sufficiently funded, LIHEAP serves a vital, life-saving role, protecting millions from America’s cold winters and increasingly hot summers. Robust funding is necessary if LIHEAP is to continue to provide states and charities the resources to serve your most vulnerable constituents. Please protect LIHEAP from damaging cuts and ensure service continuity to vulnerable Americans who desperately need this program’s services.
LIHEAP is an efficient and effective program. It supports local community-based programs that assist thousands of constituents in your own district, including the elderly, disabled, unemployed, and families with young children. In FY16, more than 70 percent of the 6+ million households helped by LIHEAP had at least one vulnerable person.
Congress limits LIHEAP eligibility to households earning no more than 150 percent of the federal poverty level or 60 percent of the state median income. For reference, the FY17 federal poverty guideline for a family of three was $30,240. Most LIHEAP recipients fall well below either threshold and many applicants are turned away each year due to insufficient program funds.
In 2017, the national poverty rate was 12.7 percent and 40.6 million Americans lived in poverty, according to U.S. Census data. There’s no question that the need for LIHEAP persists. The Federal Reserve reports that nearly half of American families would struggle to pay emergency expenses of just $400. LIHEAP can avert energy disconnections, help restore energy service, and ease energy burdens for those in need while improving the energy efficiency of households nationwide.
Between FY09 and FY17, LIHEAP’s appropriation fell 35 percent. We understand that Congress must make difficult budget decisions, but reducing LIHEAP funding is not the answer. We strongly urge you to protect LIHEAP funding in FY19 or improve funding, as the House proposed in FY17.
Thank you for your support of LIHEAP and your consideration for the millions of people assisted by this funding.
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