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3/4/2014

Statement on President Obama’s FY2015 Budget Submission

Statement from Brandon Avila, Director, Campaign for Home Energy Assistance:

Today the Obama Administration requested $2.8 billion for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program – a dramatic reduction from last year’s Appropriation of $3.4 billion. In the midst of a brutal winter and surging energy prices, the idea of cutting LIHEAP by nearly 20% is unthinkable. Just last week, the Mayors of 19 major cities called on the White House to meet the community’s need by increasing investment to $4.7 billion. It is our deepest hope that Congressional leaders will reject these proposed cuts and restore assistance to hundreds of thousands of households.

For media requests or questions, contact:
Brandon Avila
Campaign For Home Energy Assistance
bavila@btbv.com
202-331-2962

2/25/2014

Major US Mayors Ask President Obama for LIHEAP Funding

Citing a significant uptick in extreme weather conditions over the past year eighteen major city Mayors from across the country, including St. Louis, Los Angeles, Boston and Philadelphia, wrote President Obama requesting that he include at least $4.7 billion in funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) in his FY2015 budget.

Mayors across the country recognize the necessity of LIHEAP in providing crucial resources to keep heat and cooling running during these tough economic times. The letter directly calls President Obama to increase this crucial funding to those who need the most help – seniors, households with children under five, veterans and the disabled.

“We’re already seeing the demand for LIHEAP funds surge this year thanks to the lowest winter temperatures in decades for some parts of the country. The nation’s poverty rate is at 15 percent, with almost 22 percent of children living in poverty,” LIHEAP Campaign Director Brandon Avila explains. “These troubling poverty figures coupled with increased energy instability for our most vulnerable populations underscore the importance of this program – demand is quickly outpacing the resources currently available to the program.

LIHEAP offices are reporting a record number of applicants this winter in what has become a perfect storm for the program: responding to a tough winter while maintaining enough resources to respond to additional needs later in the year. Since FY2010, LIHEAP funding has declined by 30 percent (from $5.1 billion in 2009 to $3.4 billion in 2014) as energy prices continue to rise. Continued cuts to the LIHEAP program will only hurt those trying hard to make send meet in these tough economic times.

Read the full press release here.
Read the full letter here.

For media requests or questions, contact:
Brandon Avila
Campaign For Home Energy Assistance
bavila@btbv.com
202-331-2962

11/4/2013

HHS Releases FY2014 Continuing Resolution Funding

The Health and Human Services today announced the total FY2014 LIHEAP funds that will be released under the Continuing Resolution apportionment.  A summary of the State totals can be found at the link below.

Overall, HHS released $2.9 billion in regular block grant funding, which represents 90 percent of the FY2013 funding.   We are still waiting on the final appropriations funding level that will be provided once Congress finishes their budget conference.

https://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/ocs/dcl_2013_10oct24_fundingtable.pdf

The Campaign and its supporters in Congress have called for at least $4.7 billion earlier this year.  So far, the Senate Appropriations Committee passed their bill with $3.6 billion, an increase over the $3.25 billion that was provided last year after the sequestration reduction.

As always, let me know if you have any questions.

Brandon Avila
Campaign For Home Energy Assistance
www.liheap.org
202-331-2962

4/10/2013

President’s FY2014 LIHEAP Budget: $3 billion

Today, the President proposed investing $3.02 billion in the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).   Overall, the President requested roughly $3 billion ($2.8 billion in formula and $150 million in contingency).  The Administration adjusted the formula so that additional funds could be retained in the Tier 1 distribution.  Additionally, $50 million is available for making competitive grants to assist low-income households in reducing household energy burdens and for conducting a national evaluation of such grants.

If enacted by Congress, this proposal would result in devastating and unacceptable  cuts to LIHEAP services across the country. We all know that economic times are hard and energy prices remain high.  Millions of struggling American households rely on targeted, short-term assistance from the LIHEAP program to help cover their heating costs in the winter and cooling costs in the summer.  This program is not an entitlement or a luxury – it is a critical bridge for those Americans who are hurting the most.

Over the past decade, LIHEAP has transitioned from a regional program to a national program serving all 50 states.  At peak funding in 2010, the program was national in scale but still only had enough resources to support roughly 1/4 of eligible households.  Unfortunately, since then, funding for LIHEAP has been cut drastically – to $4.7 billion in FY2011 and less than $3.5 billion in FY2013. This represents a 30 percent decline in funding since 2010.

With decreased funding over the past several years, states are forced to provide smaller grants to fewer households.  Additional cuts to the program will place additional stress on the program.

If the goal is  a robust, efficient and effective national LIHEAP program we need to reverse the trend of cutting funding and build back to the authorized spending level of $5.1 billion.  The Campaign will continue to work with our vast network of partners and champions on Capitol Hill to continue to make the case. See the facts on liheap!

 

4/3/2013

LIHEAP WEEK OF ACTION CAMPAIGN

On Wednesday, April 10th, LIHEAP supporters from across the nation are coming to Washington, D.C. to urge Congress to restore LIHEAP funding to at least $4.7 billion in 2014.     On LIHEAP Action Day a bipartisan coalition of policymakers, industry leaders, and community advocates from all 50 states will gather on Capitol Hill, where they will meet with Members of Congress to discuss the importance of fully funding LIHEAP in fiscal year 2014.

Find FY2014-LIHEAP-Facts.pdf

3/15/2013

See Coalition of Northeast Governors CONEG Testimony_ House-Labor-HHS_FY2014 LIHEAP Appropriations to Appropriators asking for $5.1 billion in FY2014.

3/1/2013

With the March 1st sequestration deadline now here, the President is required under the August 2011 debt limit increase law (PL 112-25) to issue the order to begin the cuts under sequester. The Office of Management and Budget is expected to then transmit a report to Congress detailing the spending cuts.

According to recent CBO reports, the LIHEAP program would be cut by roughly 5%, or $185 million of the $3.47 billion that was appropriated in the FY2013 funding measure.

See FY2013LIHEAPAppropriationsFinalB cuts.

The next opportunity to avert these reductions will occur over the next few weeks as Congress finishes negotiations over the FY2013 spending bill, which expires on March 27th.  However, with disagreements on what to offsets could be used to replace the cuts, it is unclear whether an agreement could be made.

12/5/2012

This week 40 Senators sent a letter to the President requesting that they include $4.7 billion in their FY2014 submission to Congress.12 05 12 LIHEAP Ltr to President

The House also sent a similar letter asking for LIHEAP House FY2014 Letter to President.

11/9/2012

FY2013 LIHEAP Funding Released to States

 The Health and Human Services recently announced that they are releasing FY2013 LIHEAP funds, as dictating in the Continuing Resolution.  The attached table reflects the levels states will receive under this initial release.  Roughly 90 percent of the total regular block grant funding will be provided in this initial release.  The overall funding and formula uses the same distribution provided under the terms of the FY2012 appropriations.

See explanation below from the Administration.   Public Release Table 102912 1 SEP jc (2).pdf

Funding Released Under the Continuing Resolution

This funding is provided under the Continuing Appropriations Act, 2013 (P.L. 112-175) – or “CR” – and represents roughly 90 percent of the regular block grant funding provided in FY 2012.  Please find attached a table detailing the allocations to grantees made by this release.  Grantees with completed FY 2013 plans will be sent award letters with their individual allocations.

Each state received the lesser of 90 percent of the annual allocation provided under the CR and the amount the state requested for the first two quarters of FY 2013.  A state that requested less than 90 percent of its annual allocation may revise its request for the first or second quarter up to this amount.

 

 

10/12/2012

House -Senate LIHEAP champions sent support Letters asking that HHS release quickly as much CR LIHEAP funds as possible.  Senate letter-House letter

LIHEAP Update:

The CR extends the FY12 funding level for LIHEAP (plus an across-the-board increase in funding of 0.612%) to reach an annualized funding level of $3.493 billion in formula grants.  The CR also directs HHS to distribute funds under the same formula compromise as utilized in FY12.  (i.e., $497 million to be distributed according to the “new” LIHEAP formula, with the remainder, about $2.996 billion, to be distributed according to the “old” LIHEAP formula.)

HHS has not yet announced the amount of funds that would be distributed to the states pursuant to the CR, but they are working with OMB to try to be able to make that announcement.

Brandon Avila
Campaign For Home Energy Assistance
www.liheap.org

9/12/2012

14 Governors Sign Letter Supporting LIHEAP funding in Continuing Resolution

Governor Patrick (MA) and 14 other Governors signed-on to a letter aksing that  LIHEAP funding be included on the CR.  Congress to reach an agreement on a 6-mo CR to fund the government through March at FY12 levels.  This Governors LIHEAP support letter 09_12_12 requests that the full year appropriations for LIHEAP be made available up-front in any short term spending bill.

3/20/2012

137 House Members sign bipartisan letter requesting $5.1 billion for LIHEAP in FY2013

FY13LIHEAP Approps Letter

2/14/2012

Campaign Rejects the President’s FY2013 LIHEAP Budget – Supports $5.1 billion in funding

 On Monday, the President proposed investing $3.02 billion in the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).  We recognize and appreciate that this is a significant increase in the amount of money the Administration proposed for FY 2012.  At the same time, if enacted by Congress, this proposal  would result in devastating and unacceptable  cuts to LIHEAP services across the country.

We all know that economic times are hard and energy prices remain high.  Millions of struggling American households rely on targeted, short-term assistance from the LIHEAP program to help cover their heating costs in the winter and cooling costs in the summer.  This program is not an entitlement or a luxury – it is a critical bridge for those Americans who are hurting the most.

Over the past decade, LIHEAP has transitioned from a regional program to a national program serving all 50 states.  At peak funding in 2009, the program was national in scale but still only had enough resources to support roughly 1/4 of eligible households.  With decreased funding over the past several years, states are forced to provide smaller grants to fewer households.  Additional cuts to the program will place additional stress on the program.

If the goal is  a robust, efficient and effective national LIHEAP program we need to reverse the trend of cutting funding and build back to the authorized spending level of $5.1 billion.  The Campaign will continue to work with our vast network of partners and champions on Capitol Hill to continue to make the case. FY2013 LIHEAP Facts

Brandon Avila
Campaign For Home Energy Assistance
www.liheap.org
@liheapcampaign
202-331-2962

1/30/2012

103 LIHEAP supporter in the House of Representatives sent aFY2013 LIHEAP SUPPORT LETTER TO PRESIDENT OBAMAto the President requesting at least $4.7 billion for the program in the upcoming FY2013 submission to Congress.  The White House has indicated this will be submitted on February 13.

1/19/2012

HHS Released Final FY2012 Funding Levels:

HHS released the remaining FY12 funding for LIHEAP.  The total released today is $863M, bringing the total released FY12 funding to $3.4B.

The chart to see what your state is receiving  liheap allocations.

1/18/2012

Bipartisan Group of Senators Urge President to Fully Fund LIHEAP in FY2013.  See letter1.18.12 President FY13 LIHEAP signonl

12/16/2011

House Releases Conference Report and Moves Closer to Vote – LIHEAP Funded at $3.478 B

 Today, the House is expected to take up the Omnibus FY2012 appropriations package, which contains funding for LIHEAP in the Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee.  The House recently released their Conference Report.  With the current CR expiring today, both chambers will have to move quickly to approve this package.

As reported yesterday, the bill provides $3.478 B for LIHEAP.  In what appears to be a compromise between the House and Senate on the formula distribution, roughly $3 billion would be distributed under the old formula (tier 1).  There is no reserve for contingency funding. Additionally, $3 million would be provided for Training and Technical Assistance.

This overall funding is less than current year’s level ($4.7 billion), but higher than the President’s request of $2.57 billion.

Now that this joint statement has been released, we have additional information on other programs of interest:

Weatherization Assistance Program:  $65M is provided, with another $3M for training and technical assistance.  This is a rather large cut from the $174M in FY11.

State Energy Program:  It is the higher Senate level at $50M.  This was the same level as FY11.

12/8/2011

The # of Military Families Receiving LIHEAP Increases by 156% Since 2008

The National Energy Assistance Directors’ Association (NEADA) representing the state directors of the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) released the results of their latest survey of LIHEAP recipients. The survey was based on phone calls to more than 1,000 current program recipients.  A copy of the survey is on the NEADA website – www.neada.org.

Key Findings: The number of veterans has increased from 12 percent of total recipients to 20% since 2008, increasing from 695,760 in FY 2008 to 1.78 million in FY 2011.  During this period the overall program grew by 54% while the number of veterans households increased by more than 150%.  Veteran households in fact accounted for almost 35% of total growth in the program between FY 2008 and 2011.  Of specific interest, 12% of all veterans receiving LIHEAP have served in Iraq or Afghanistan.  Seven percent of military families are currently serving in the military.

According to Mark Wolfe, Executive Director of NEADA, the increase in veterans’ families mirrors the overall increase in LIHEAP across the country. It also clearly demonstrates that LIHEAP is reaching some of the nation’s poorest families – including those who have served their nation in times of peace as well as war.

12/5/2011

Sens. Reed (RI), Snowe (ME), and Sanders (VT) will soon introduce the “LIHEAP Protection Act”.  This legislation would maintain level-funding for LIHEAP at last year’s level of $4.7 billion to help low-income households cope during this tough economic climate.  See bill draft language.  LIHEAP protection act bill

11/11/2011

Senate LIHEAP FY2012 Support Letter:

Senator Snowe (R-ME) and Reed (D-RI) spearheaded a letter with a bipartisan group of 34 Senator to Congressional leadership urging them to fund the LIHEAP program at $4.7 B for FY2012. Additionally, the letter asks that Congress provide additional funding in the next Continuing Resolution. 11.11 LIHEAP

11/4/2011

Supporters in the House sent a letter to leadership asking that Congress provide $4.7 billion for LIHEAP in the FY2012 funding negotiations.  LIHEAP Letter to Leadership 11-04-11

Attached is the final Governor letter Gov – LIHEAP that was sent to Congressional leadership urging them to fund the LIHEAP program at $4.7 B for FY2012.

8/22/2011

Recession Increases Number of Children Living in Low-Income Families
The 2011 KIDS COUNT Data Book: New Data & State Rankings on Child Well-being

According to data released by the Annie E. Casey Foundation in its annual KIDS COUNT ® Data Book, over the last decade there has been a significant decline in economic well-being for low-income children and families. Data also reveals the impact of the job and foreclosure crisis on children. This year’s message explores how children and families are faring in the wake of the recession and why it matters to help kids reach their full potential to become part of a robust economy and society.  Read the full 2011KCDB_FINAL_S_f

7/29/2011

NEADA/NASCSP Respond to Heritage Poverty Report

Today the The National Energy Assistance Directors’ Association (NEADA) and the National Association for State Community Services Programs (NASCSP) today released a letter to the Heritage Foundation expressing their concern that the core conclusions of their recently released report, “What is Poverty Today” is based on a misleading interpretation of the Residential Energy Conservation Survey (RECS) data.  letter to Heritage .

Congress wraps up FY2011 Budget: LIHEAP funded at $4.71 billion

4/21/2011

The Congress finished their FY2011 Continuing Resolution for the remainder of the year.  The bill provided $4.71 billion ($4.51 in formula and $200.3 million in contingency) for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).

The bill language also sets the state income eligibility level back to 60% of the state median income (In both the FY2009 and FY2010 appropriations acts, Congress gave states the authority to raise their LIHEAP eligibility standards to 75% of state median income).

As previously reported, with the help of our LIHEAP champions on the Hill, much of the LIHEAP funding for this year was attached to the CR back in December so that additional funds would be made available to states during a time of the year when many states were trying to cope with a cold weather season that typically causes a spike in demand.

With roughly $4.46 b ($4.26 b in formula and $200 m in contingency) already released, HHS allocated the remaining roughly $240 million so that states received the same amount in formula that they got in FY2011.

See total amounts allocated to states this year (FY2011).
http://liheap.org/?page_id=107

President’s FY2012 Budget Request
2/14/2011

The President released his budget for FY2012, which included recommendations to slash the LIHEAP program from $5.1 billion to $2.57 billion, a 50% reduction.  This request would roll the program’s funding back to its 2008 levels.

During tough economic times and with home heating and cooling prices on a steady incline, the decision to drastically cut the vital LIHEAP program is irresponsible. If allowed to stand, this reduction will have dramatic and devastating effect on the millions of working people and elderly nationwide who benefit from this effective program.

Already a bi-partisan chorus of lawmakers and commentators have decried cuts to LIHEAP in a letter to the Administration. Regardless, a tough fight lies ahead to maintain LIHEAP funding at an appropriate level, and your continued support and assistance will be crucial in that process.

1-page Save LIHEAP fact sheet with talking points

White House Justification of FY2012 LIHEAP Cut:
During this period of tough budget choices, the President’s 2012 Budget provides $2.57 billion for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) to help low-income families offset a portion of their home heating and cooling costs. This includes $1.98 billion in base grants and $590 million in contingency funds to allow the Administration to respond to energy-related emergencies. The 2012 Budget does not re-propose the mandatory funding trigger that was included in prior Budgets. Reflecting current forecasts for more moderate energy prices in winter 2011-2012, this returns LIHEAP funding to historic levels received for 2008 prior to the energy price spikes. Current energy price forecasts predict relatively moderate price increases for winter 2011-2012 compared to this winter, with prices remaining well below the peaks experienced in 2008. For example, the West Texas Intermediate spot price for crude oil is expected to be $95 per barrel in the fourth quarter of 2011 compared to a peak of nearly $124 per barrel in the second quarter of 2008. Likewise, the Henry Hub spot price for natural gas is expected to be $4.52 per thousand cubic meters in the fourth quarter of 2011, compared to a peak price of $11.72 per thousand cubic meters in the second quarter of 2008.1 The Administration will continue to monitor energy prices going forward and will be willing to revisit program needs if there are significant price increases.

Additionally, the Administration proposes to reauthorize and modify the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) with reforms aimed at strengthening program integrity and fraud prevention

To read the full justification provided by ACF.  http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/olab/budget/2012/cj2012.html

From the LIHEAP Blog...

By Jake Brown

Sen Ed Markey

Senator Edward J. Markey

Senator Edward J. Markey (D-MA) garnered political praise after being presented with an award from the National Energy Assistance Directors’ Association (NEADA) in recognition and “appreciation of your many years of leadership, support, and commitment.” Commented NEADA director Mark Wolfe: “As a result of Senator Markey’s long-term support of LIHEAP, we were not only able to fight off funding cuts this year but were able to secure an additional $170 million for the program. Because of Senator Markey’s leadership, almost seven million poor families across the country have received important help to pay their heating bills this winter.”

Iowa State Sen Liz Mathis

Iowa State Senator Liz Mathis

Iowa State Senator Liz Mathis earned the applause of her constituents after she fought and won $2 million in additional LIHEAP funding, reasoning that the supplemental funding was dictated by the “perfect storm” that arrived in the face of the reality that for tens of thousands of Iowan households, “along with propane problems, there are broken furnaces, higher energy bills and something we can’t control – a really cold and long winter which is throwing people into a financial dilemma and dangerous safety issues.” Hammering home how real the crisis was facing so many families, Mathis bravely took on the program’s critics, cautioning them on calls to hold off on appropriating the additional funds, declaring that “last week I heard some senators say they wanted to take a ‘wait-and-see approach’ and still others said the churches should meet these multi-million dollar needs. New and real numbers, real data, not just stories have just been released that will show we need to answer the call today to help our fellow Iowans.”

PA Governor Corbett

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett

In Pennsylvania, Republican Governor Tom Corbett won bipartisan praise for his decision to extend the LIHEAP application deadline for winter heating assistance to the end of April. The Governor also revealed his state had planned for the possibility of a prolonged winter given the fall’s frigid temperatures, circumstances that have only worsened for the hundreds of thousands of LIHEAP-recipient families throughout Pennsylvania. Commenting on the advance planning measures, Governor Corbett explained that “each year we work to set our budget for the LIHEAP program in anticipation of the upcoming heating season. At the beginning of each season there are many unknowns, including the severity of the weather and fuel prices, but through running an efficient program and via prudent planning, we are now able to extend the program by nearly a month.”

State Sen Saxhaug

Minnesota State Senator Tom Saxhaug

In Minnesota, a bipartisan coalition of state legislators united to secure a record $20 million in supplemental state-issued LIHEAP funding to compensate a shortfall in federal funds. The record application levels of the winter season would have seen federal funding dry up by the top of March. Spearheaded by chief legislation author Senator Tom Saxhaug (DFL-Grand Rapids), he commented that the additional financing was necessary because “I don’t want any Minnesotans to worry about their heating this winter … and we need to make sure that the LIHEAP program remains funded until this propane shortage is resolved.” Other co-sponsors of the bill who earned praise for their aggressive prioritizing of what became the first bill passed out of the state’s 2014 legislative session included:

Rep Petersberg

Minnesota State Representative John Petersburg

State Rep. John Petersburg (R-Waseca): “We’re trying to provide for the expanded availability and ability for people to enroll. Without this people were going to be running cold houses and having frozen pipes.”

Rep Savick

Minnesota State Representative Shannon Savick

State Rep. Shannon Savick (DFL-Wells): “The propane issue, for some people, is becoming a matter of health and safety. This bill will help offer support for more families in our area that are still struggling to keep warm during this brutal winter. It’s a good start to what will hopefully be a very positive session.”

Sen Jensen

Minnesota State Senator Vicki Jensen

State Sen. Vicki Jensen (DFL-Owatonna): “I’m very happy we were able to get this important legislation passed quickly. There’s nothing more important we do in the legislature than ensure the safety of Minnesotans. By doubling payments and extending the benefits of the LIHEAP program, we’ll be able to make sure families are able to heat their homes.”