NEADA submitted testimony to Congress in support of $4.7 billion in funding for FY 2020. The testimony provides a rational for the increase in funding request as well as examples of how examples of households helped by LIHEAP. Specifically, the testimony states that the additional funding would allow states to increase the number of households helped back to the FY 2011 level of 6.9 million from the current level of about 5.9 million. The average grant would be increased from $492 to $560 and the purchasing power of home heating would increase from about 55 percent to 63%.
The testimony also urged the Committee to reject the Administration’s Budget for LIHEAP. The Administration’s Budget, if enacted, would eliminate all funding for LIHEAP beginning in FY 2020. The Administration’s position is based on two points: the first is that the program should be eliminated because of a nine-year old GAO study that reported isolated cases of fraud and the second is that states have enacted shut-off provisions during winter heating and summer cooling cycles.
The testimony stated that the state LIHEAP directors strongly disagreed with both of the Administration’s positions and urged the members of the Subcommittee to reject the Administration’s proposal for the following three reasons:
- First, the states have been working in partnership with the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) to implement a comprehensive performance measures program. As part of this program, states submit an annual report containing data on targeting households that pay the highest energy costs in proportion to their income, restoring energy services to families that have been shut-off due to lack of payment, and preventing loss of energy services.
- Second, replacing LIHEAP with a patchwork of state, local, and utility assistance would take us back to the days when many poor families used their stoves to heat their homes and suffered the shut-off of energy services when they were unable to pay the bill. Without LIHEAP, energy assistance is unreliable, especially during periods of price spikes due to global events or extreme weather that make home energy unaffordable. State, local, and utility programs are not a substitute for LIHEAP, rather they provide supplementary assistance.
- Third, shut-off protections do not eliminate the necessity of a poor family paying their energy bill–they simply delay the due date. They will still be responsible for the full bill once the shut-off moratorium expires. And for those families using unregulated delivered fuels – heating oil and propane – there are no shut-off protections.
The following links to a copy of the testimony.