Send letter to HHS urging release of LIHEAP funding as home heating fuel costs expected to increase dramatically this winter
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), dean of the New England Congressional delegation and senior member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, was joined by 91 members of the House of Representatives in a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) calling for the immediate release of as much Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funding as possible under the current continuing resolution. LIHEAP is a vital safety net for many low-income families, especially the elderly, disabled and veterans. Immediate release of funding will allow state agencies to prepare local LIHEAP programs for the coming winter. This week, the Energy Information Administration announced that homeowners who rely on home heating oil will pay record-high fuel prices this year.
“We believe it is critical that the state begin the process of assisting those individuals with the greatest need immediately,” write the lawmakers in the letter to Kathleen Sebelius. “With forecasts for above-normal snowfall for all major I-95 cities, including New York City, Philadelphia, and Baltimore, the timing is critical.”
A copy of the letter to HHS can be found HERE.
According to Energy Information Administration’s Winter Fuels Outlook, households heating with heating oil will see their costs rise by $407 this winter. It will cost households almost $2,500 to heat their homes with heating oil this winter, compared to under $700 nationally and just over $1,000 in the Northeast for those families using natural gas. Costs to heat with heating oil have increased nearly $1,000 dollars over the last six years, which is part of the reason why 1.4 million families have switched away from home heating oil in the Northeast over the last eight years.
In Massachusetts, 200,000 families received heating assistance from LIHEAP last year, a decline of nearly six percent. The average LIHEAP heating benefit for a Massachusetts family has been reduced 43 percent over the last two years to $550.