As Frigid Temperatures Set In, Massachusetts Delegation Calls for Immediate Release of Vital Home Heating Assistance Funding

 

200,000 Massachusetts families depend on LIHEAP each year

 

Washington (January 4, 2018) – As a brutal winter storm bears down on the Northeast, the Massachusetts Congressional delegation today called for the immediate release of as much as possible of the remaining 10 percent of Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funds for this fiscal year. Nationwide, LIHEAP helps low-income households, veterans, and seniors pay their energy bills during the cold winter months. The Department of Energy forecasts that consumers across the Northeast will have to pay significantly more to heat their homes this winter. Families heating their homes with heating oil are anticipated to pay 21 percent more this winter. In the Northeast, families using natural gas or propane are projected to pay roughly 10 percent more than last year, and it will cost families heating with electricity nearly three and a half percent more. 

 

“Families in our state are in desperate need of the remaining LIHEAP funds to combat the deadly combination of sustained cold weather and high fuel prices,” write the lawmakers in their letter to the Department of Health and Human Services. “No family should have to choose between paying their energy bills or paying for other necessities such as food or medicine during dangerously cold days, but a lack of additional LIHEAP funds means that thousands of families may soon have to face these terrible choices.”

 

Singing the letter are Senators Edward J. Markey and Elizabeth Warren, and Representatives Richard Neal, James McGovern, Michael Capuano, Stephen F. Lynch, Niki Tsongas, William Keating, Joseph P. Kennedy III, Katherine Clark, and Seth Moulton.

 

Full text of the letter can be found below and HERE.

  

January 4, 2018

 

Mr. Eric D. Hargan

Acting Secretary and Deputy Secretary

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

200 Independence Avenue, S.W.

Washington, D.C. 20201

  

Dear Acting Secretary Hargan:

 

We are facing a home heating crisis in Massachusetts and the Northeast this winter. As families in Massachusetts face sustained low temperatures and high fuel prices this winter, we write to urge you to immediately release as much of the remaining 10 percent of Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funds for this fiscal year as possible.

 

LIHEAP funding is indispensable to families in Massachusetts and across the United States during these frigid winter months, including seniors, children and individuals with disabilities. The program provides a crucial public safety and health service for millions of households across the country and hundreds of thousands in Massachusetts. Families in the Commonwealth will soon confront a home heating emergency as LIHEAP funds are exhausted while extreme cold weather continues to strike the region. Families in the Northeast are also facing heating fuel prices that are significantly higher than last winter. No family should have to choose between paying their energy bills or paying for other necessities such as food or medicine during dangerously cold days, but a lack of additional LIHEAP funds means that thousands of families may soon have to face these terrible choices.

 

Because of the frigid cold combined with higher fuel prices, the Department of Energy (DOE) forecasts that consumers across the Northeast will have to pay significantly more to heat their homes this winter. Families heating their homes with heating oil are anticipated to pay 21 percent more this winter. In the Northeast, families using natural gas or propane are projected to pay roughly 10 percent more than last year and it will cost families heating with electricity nearly three and a half percent more. 

 

LIHEAP funds are quickly running out in Massachusetts. Families in our state are in desperate need of the remaining LIHEAP funds to combat the deadly combination of sustained cold weather and high fuel prices. We urge you to immediately release as much of the remaining funding in the LIHEAP account as possible to help families in Massachusetts and across the country as we approach a home heating emergency this winter.

 

Sincerely,

 

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