Casey Calls on Administration to Boost Heating Assistance Funds in Upcoming Budget

President Set to Send Next Year’s Budget to Congress in Weeks, LIHEAP Funds Could be At Risk / County by County Data Shows Need for Heating Funds Across State that Helps Seniors, Working Families

Casey Calls on Administration to Boost Heating Assistance Funds in Upcoming Budget

Washington, DC- As a record cold-snap hits the country and Pennsylvania residents endure $95 million in cuts to heating assistance funds this year, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) called on the Administration to boost funds for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) in its upcoming budget. Senator Casey discussed county by county data showing the need for these funds across that helps seniors and working families across the state.

“This week’s dangerously cold weather is a reminder of the need to adequately fund heating assistance in the coming year,” Senator Casey said. “In the coming weeks, the Administration has a chance to ensure that seniors and working families in Pennsylvania have the resources they need to stay warm during the next winter. Already this year seniors and working families in Pennsylvania have endured $95 million in cuts to heating assistance. I’m urging the Administration and Congress to commit to adequately funding this program in the coming year.”

Pennsylvanians Served

  • In 2012, LIHEAP provided roughly 384,334 PA households with LIHEAP financial assistance. There are 1.5 million eligible households in PA.
    • In 2011, LIHEAP provided 626,969 PA households with LIHEAP financial assistance.
  • The average PA household assistance benefit was $408. Nationally, the average benefit covered only 8% of household energy bills.
  • 33.4% are seniors, 18.5% are younger than 5 years old, and 28.5% have disabilities.

Eligibility: PA families receiving LIHEAP have incomes below 150% of the federal poverty level. The majority fall well below the program cap. County by county data is below:

County

$ FY2012 $

Adams County

477,915.41

Allegheny County

22,805,266.98

Armstrong County

1,794,961.14

Beaver County

4,675,934.55

Bedford County

967,640.61

Berks County

1,706,358.81

Blair County

4,485,272.19

Bradford County

1,711,501.22

Bucks County

263,447.70

Butler County

2,364,286.30

Cambria County

4,562,657.45

Cameron County

189,536.06

Carbon County

918,723.64

Centre County

1,502,143.07

Chester County

1,629,921.10

Clarion County

1,492,332.04

Clearfield County

3,272,993.58

Clinton County

920,859.28

Columbia County

1,017,495.16

Crawford County

2,787,819.40

Cumberland County

601,488.62

Dauphin County

2,711,749.81

Delaware County

5,506,060.51

Elk County

595,380.06

Erie County

6,194,098.88

Fayette County

8,402,816.63

Forest County

171,773.20

Franklin County

719,341.32

Fulton County

374,996.21

Greene County

1,339,016.07

Huntingdon County

994,685.58

Indiana County

2,468,353.06

Jefferson County

977,389.18

Juniata County

269,480.23

Lackawanna County

3,992,655.18

Lancaster County

2,075,634.52

Lawrence County

3,637,572.09

Lebanon County

700,848.86

Lehigh County

2,050,644.12

Luzerne County

6,981,347.33

Lycoming County

2,394,361.96

McKean County

1,408,066.10

Mercer County

3,329,843.77

Mifflin County

918,218.63

Monroe County

1,404,854.01

Montgomery County

2,161,500.52

Montour County

201,719.29

Northampton County

1,281,761.22

Northumberland County

1,271,630.57

Perry County

493,415.72

Philadelphia County

53,348,639.43

Pike County

354,693.71

Potter County

572,324.62

Schuylkill County

2,424,733.98

Snyder County

309,992.86

Somerset County

2,173,559.49

Sullivan County

157,157.32

Susquehanna County

1,139,508.83

Tioga County

1,029,393.99

Union County

370,332.90

Venango County

1,844,658.21

Warren County

814,525.32

Washington County

3,783,856.53

Wayne County

887,050.57

Westmoreland County

7,980,897.56

Wyoming County

706,268.36

York County

1,514,283.11

The full text of Senator Casey’s letter can be seen below:

Dear Mr. President:

The current cold snap demonstrates that the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is critical now more than ever. I am writing to reiterate the request that you prioritize LIHEAP in your Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 budget proposal by including no less than $4.7 billion for this program that provides critical support to our most vulnerable citizens.

LIHEAP is the main federal program that helps low-income households and seniors with their energy bills, providing vital assistance during both the cold winter and hot summer months. LIHEAP households are among the most vulnerable in the country. According to the National Energy Assistance Director’s Association (NEADA), more than 90 percent of LIHEAP recipients have at least one household member who is a child, elderly, or disabled, and 20 percent of households contain at least one veteran. For these households, LIHEAP funding has been a lifeline during challenging economic times. Access to affordable home energy is not a luxury -- it is a matter of health and safety.

I understand the ongoing discretionary budget challenges. However, I am deeply concerned that funding for LIHEAP has declined more than 30 percent in recent years. Moreover, the number of households eligible for assistance continues to exceed available funding. Sequestration has further exacerbated these funding challenges. According to NEADA, the total number of households receiving LIHEAP assistance has declined by 17 percent between FY 2010 and FY 2013, from about 8.1 million to 6.7 million. Nearly 1.5 million vulnerable households have lost access to critical LIHEAP assistance and struggle to pay for the basic necessity of home energy in addition to other essentials like food and medicine. Out of the 1.5 million eligible households in Pennsylvania, current funding only can help 384,334 Pennsylvanian households (about 25 percent of those eligible).

Funding has declined, yet energy costs have remained high, reducing the purchasing power of LIHEAP assistance. Recipients have seen their average LIHEAP grant reduced by more than $100 since 2010, from $520 in FY 2010 to $406 in FY 2013. Meanwhile, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) projects that average winter home heating costs will rise six percent to $977 per household this winter. The average LIHEAP grant is estimated to cover less than half of the average home heating costs for a household this winter, meaning that many low-income families and seniors will have fewer resources available to meet other basic needs. I urge you to demonstrate your continued commitment to programs like LIHEAP that help keep families on their feet during periods of higher unemployment.

As you finalize your FY 2015 budget request, I ask that you take into account the great need for LIHEAP. I urge you to reprioritize this program within your FY 2015 budget and restore funding to this program to a level no less than $4.7 billion.

Thank you for your attention to and consideration of this important request.

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