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Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) Action Day

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LIHEAP Action Day is just around the corner on February 15. In this post, We Stand For Energy takes a closer look at how the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program helps with heating and cooling costs for those in need.

What is LIHEAP?

Started in 1981, LIHEAP delivers aid to vulnerable populations to help pay heating or cooling bills. LIHEAP is a federally funded program that provides targeted block grants to states and tribes to help struggling residents balance their budgets. States distribute this funding to local agencies that are familiar with clients and can provide assistance on a short-term basis.

As temperatures drop to dangerous lows this winter season, some families and individuals may have to make difficult choices between paying for groceries or paying for heating costs. LIHEAP helps those who are struggling, so that they do not have to sacrifice other needs to stay warm.

Who Does LIHEAP Serve?

LIHEAP provides funds for the country’s underserved and underpaid population. Approximately 6 million households are served by LIHEAP, with the average household receiving $458 for heating and cooling costs.

Funds are distributed among households with vulnerable populations:

  • 19 percent of households helped by LIHEAP are home to a child under five years old.
  • 35 percent of households helped by LIHEAP are home to an elderly resident.
  • 40 percent of households helped by LIHEAP are home to someone with a disability.
  • 70 percent of households helped by LIHEAP are home to either a child under five years old, an elderly resident, or someone with a disability.

How is LIHEAP Structured?

LIHEAP has three main components:

  1. Basic Energy and Crisis Assistance: These funds make up the majority of the program and are passed directly to low-income households to help with heating and cooling costs.
  2. Emergency Contingency Funds: These funds are available to supplement heating and cooling costs during extreme weather temperatures and weather emergencies.
  3. Weatherization: Funds are also set aside for energy-related repairs and weatherization. These fixes can increase energy efficiency and reduce heating and cooling bills.

However, the overall budget for these programs is set by Congress. Unlike entitlement programs with funding that changes with need, LIHEAP funding is determined through annual federal appropriations bills.

How Can You Support LIHEAP?

As a member of We Stand For Energy, you can take action by sending a letter of support to your elected officials, encouraging them remain committed to the LIHEAP program. Stay tuned to learn more about when and how to send your letter. Help protect our neighbors, colleagues, friends, and families in need by urging the government to continue to fund LIHEAP, so no one is left in the cold this winter season.