Harkin Praises Release of LIHEAP Funds, Urges More for Next Year

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) today praised the release of emergency funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, but urged that more will be needed for next winter.  The Bush Administration released $1 billion in additional funds for LIHEAP this year, half of which will be used as emergency funding to meet immediate shortfalls in states like Iowa.  Senator Harkin had previously called on the Bush Administration to release emergency funding to meet immediate shortfalls in LIHEAP caused by sharply higher heating bills this winter.  These additional LIHEAP funds are taken from next year’s budget, setting up shortfalls for next year’s heating season.

“This is welcome news for Iowa where low income heating funds are running dangerously low,” Harkin said.  “But this funding increase sets up a shortage for next year.  We need to pass additional funds for LIHEAP to avoid a crisis in next winter’s heating bills for working families, senior citizen and people with disabilities.”

The budget resolution passed by Congress last week contains an amendment cosponsored by Senator Harkin that would increase LIHEAP funds for next year’s budget by $3.3 billion.  The House has yet to consider their budget resolution and must agree to the additional LIHEAP funding for it to go into effect.  Additional funding will be needed to meet soaring demand for heating assistance caused by continued high energy prices.  The rise in energy prices, along with energy debt from last winter, led to increased disconnections among consumers this past heating season.  

“These funds are critical for a state like Iowa that has long and cold winters,” Harkin said.  “If we don’t have an increase for next year’s funding, even more low-income Americans will face the impossible decision between paying their heating bills or buying prescription drugs and groceries.”

LIHEAP helps eligible low-income families, the disabled, and senior citizens living on fixed incomes receive relief from their high home energy costs. In 2004, states assisted more than four million households with LIHEAP assistance, including 85,000 Iowa households   In Iowa last year, the state surveyed households receiving LIHEAP and found that 21 percent reported going without needed medical care and/or prescription drugs and 12 percent reported going without food in order to pay their heating bill.


Individuals can contact their local/state LIHEAP agency to apply for home energy assistance. For more information, go to http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/liheap/  or http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/liheap/brochure.html

Total LIHEAP funding by state can be viewed at: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/news/press/2006/March2006_liheap.htm