Since 1981, the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) has helped millions of low-income Americans pay their energy bills. Today, LIHEAP is a widely supported, essential program that delivers critical short-term aid to our nation’s most vulnerable citizens, including seniors on fixed incomes and the desperately poor.
Key LIHEAP Facts
- To be eligible for LIHEAP assistance, families must have incomes at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty level—about $30,000 annually for a family of three—or 60 percent of the state’s median income level.
- The majority of LIHEAP recipients fall well below the minimum income requirements. Only one out of five LIHEAP-eligible households actually receive energy assistance.
- Nearly 9 million U.S. households (approximately 23 million people) received LIHEAP funds in FY 2011 when the funding level was $4.7 billion.
- LIHEAP funding for FY 2015 was cut to less than $3.4 billion, which has forced states to drop families from the program, reduce benefits, or both.
As Congress faces very difficult fiscal challenges, tough budget decisions will need to be made. However, cutting LIHEAP funding is not the answer, and will deny people heating and cooling, which are basic needs for survival. Without energy assistance, low-income families, the elderly, and the millions of people seeking work could be forced to make painful choices between heating or cooling their homes or paying for other necessities such as food, medicine, and clothing.
The President and Congress should fully fund LIHEAP and preserve this vital safety net for millions of vulnerable Americans.