Casey Calls on Administration to Expedite Release of Heating Assistance Funds That Keep Seniors, Vulnerable Pennsylvanians Warm During Winter Months

County by County Data Show Need for LIHEAP Funds Across State, Economic Benefit / $1 in LIHEAP Spending Generates $1.13 in Economic Growth / In 2012, LIHEAP Provided Assistance to Over 380,000 Households, Yet Nationally Only 20% of Those Eligible Access Program

Casey Calls on Administration to Expedite Release of Heating Assistance Funds That Keep Seniors, Vulnerable Pennsylvanians Warm During Winter Months

Washington, DC- As winter approaches in Pennsylvania, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) called on the Administration to expedite the release of heating assistance funds that keep seniors and vulnerable Pennsylvanians warm during the winter months. Casey unveiled a letter he and 40 Bipartisan members of the Senate are sending to Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius urging the department to expedite the release of these funds from the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). Casey discussed county by county data showing the need for LIHEAP and data that shows the economic benefit of the program.

“Heating assistance plays an important role for Pennsylvania’s seniors and families and also has a substantial impact on the economy,” Senator Casey said. “Pennsylvanians know how quickly winter can come. I’m urging the Administration to expedite the release of these funds.”

For fiscal year 2012 (FY12), Congress funded LIHEAP at $3.47 billion. This funding level was lower than the FY2011 level of $4.7 billion. For FY2013, Congress appropriated $3.47 billion (the level appropriated in FY2012), but the total was reduced to $3.255 billion due to sequestration and transfer of funds within the department. Sequestration cut the program by 5%, approximately $175 million in funding nationally. In 2012, LIHEAP provided vital energy assistance to 8.9 million households, a 54% increase since 2008. LIHEAP serves about 20% of eligible households.

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. PA families receiving LIHEAP have incomes below 150% of the federal poverty level. The majority fall well below the program cap.

The PA Department of Public Welfare administers LIHEAP. There are three funding categories: cash benefits to assist eligible households pay for fuel, crisis payments to address household energy-related emergencies, and weatherization and energy conservation projects.

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 Honorable Kathleen Sebelius
Secretary
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Dear Secretary Sebelius:

As state agencies prepare their Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) programs for the winter, we respectfully request that the Department of Health and Human Services release LIHEAP funds as quickly and at as high of a level as possible under the current continuing resolution.

LIHEAP is the main federal program that helps low-income households and seniors with their energy bills, providing critical assistance during the cold winter and hot summer months. This funding has been an indispensable lifeline during challenging economic times, helping to ensure that recipients do not have to choose between paying their energy bills and paying for other necessities like food or medicine. On average low-income families and seniors spend a higher proportion of their income on energy, and for many states, October marks the start of the heating season, creating an additional constraint on these household budgets. 

As the relevant state agencies begin to provide assistance for this winter, it is critical that they have the resources to assist low-income households and seniors as soon as possible. Therefore, we request that you quickly release LIHEAP funds and at as high of a level as possible in order to allow states and low-income households to prepare for the upcoming season.   

We look forward to continuing to work with you on this critical program, and thank you for your attention to our concerns and those of our constituents. 

Sincerely,

Robert P. Casey, Jr.
United States Senator

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