Critical LIHEAP Assistance Included in COVID Relief Packages

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December 28, 2020

Washington, D.C. —  On Sunday, President Trump signed into law the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 to continue the battle against the economic devastation wrought by the Covid-19 pandemic and to fund the annual discretionary activities of the Federal government.  

Included in the Covid-19 relief section of the bill is more than $3.75 billion in emergency funding for the Low-Income House Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). This funding is in addition to the $900 million included in the CARES Act, which was the initial aid package Congress passed in March to blunt the pandemic’s economic effects.  

Energy Fairness Executive Director and National Energy and Utility Affordability Coalition Board member Paul Griffin made the following comment about the inclusion of the additional LIHEAP assistance: “The mission of Energy Fairness is to advocate for policies that make energy affordable and reliable.  At a time when so many Americans are struggling to make ends meet, the $3.75 billion included in emergency LIHEAP funding gets to the core of making energy affordable in these troubled economic times. We commend the bipartisan effort in the House and Senate to make this funding a priority.”

Established by Congress in 1981 and administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, LIHEAP provides financial energy assistance to families at or below 150% of the Federal Poverty level or 60% of state median income. Eligible families may use the funds to pay heating or air conditioning bills or complete weatherization upgrades, with each state responsible for distributing these funds. 

For example, for FY 2020, Alabama received over $60.8 million in funding to serve approximately 125,000 households with a maximum annual benefit of $990. Ohio received more than $154.7 million in FY 2020 to help approximately 540,000 families with a maximum yearly benefit of $750.

LIHEAP is an indispensable program that makes critical heating, cooling, and weatherization affordable for the most economically vulnerable Americans.  With so many Americans in dire need of assistance at every level, we commend the House and the Senate to make energy more affordable by including additional emergency LIHEAP funding in this latest relief package.