Congressman led letter to HHS urging immediate release of LIHEAP funding

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Edward J. Markey (D-Malden) today praised the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for making available $1.85 billion in first quarter LIHEAP block grant funds under the current FY2011 omnibus spending bill. As uncertainty continues over final FY2012 funding levels for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), today’s announcement of funding means those who have the greatest needs will receive support immediately. Massachusetts will receive almost $78 million under today’s release.

“With snow already falling in Massachusetts and costs for home heating oil expected to reach record highs across America this winter, this release of LIHEAP funding couldn’t come at a better time,” said Rep. Markey. “This funding will give states the opportunity to begin helping those households who need it most this winter. As we debate next year’s budget, we must ensure that LIHEAP funds are not cut so this vital program can continue to provide critical help for American families during these tough economic times.”

Earlier this month, Rep. Markey led a letter from a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers calling on HHS to immediately release as much LIHEAP funding as possible under the current continuing resolution that expires November 18, 2011.

The Energy Information Agency (EIA) projects average household home heating oil expenditures will increase eight percent and reach record highs this winter. The EIA also forecasts increases of three percent for consumers heating with natural gas and seven percent for those using propane. The National Energy Assistance Directors’ Association anticipates 9.4 million households will seek assistance with their energy costs through the LIHEAP program this winter, up from 8.9 million last year.