U.S. Senator Jack Reed today joined U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra and White House National Climate Adviser Ali Zaidi to announce that HHS is releasing nearly $29.5 million through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) to help Rhode Island families and seniors keep warm this winter. Overall, HHS is awarding a total of $4,515,300,227 to states and territories this week to help families and individuals with their energy costs.
“As temperatures begin to dip and Putin’s invasion of Ukraine forces worldwide energy price spikes, LIHEAP funds are a real lifeline for many vulnerable Americans. Each year, this vital program helps thousands of Rhode Island families to stay safe and warm. No one should have to choose between paying their heating bills and paying for other essentials like food and medicine. I am pleased to help deliver these critical LIHEAP funds now so states like Rhode Island can prepare for the upcoming winter,” said Senator Reed, a senior member of the Appropriations Committee and the leading Congressional champion of the LIHEAP program. “Congress appropriated this money to help people pay their energy bills and I commend the Biden Administration for doing their part to maximize LIHEAP assistance and swiftly distribute it so it reaches those in need.”
LIHEAP is a federally funded program that helps low-income households with their home energy bills by providing payment and/or energy crisis assistance. Rhode Island’s LIHEAP is administered by the Department of Human Services, and accessed through local Community Action Agencies.
Nationwide, an estimated 5.3 million households, including over 26,000 in Rhode Island, received assistance with heating and cooling costs through LIHEAP in 2021.
Senator Reed and U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) are leading Congressional efforts to include increased funding for LIHEAP in the fiscal year 2023 appropriations package making its way through Congress. The FY23 Senate and House appropriations bills include $4 billion for the program, a $200 million increase from FY22. The senators are working to build off the $1 billion in emergency funding for the program they helped secure in the short-term “continuing resolution” (CR) funding package (P.L. 117-180) that President Biden signed into law in September.
Under the CR, HHS is able to advance states funding equal to 90 percent of their FY 2022 allocation.
“For more than forty years, this program has helped low-income families pay their home heating and cooling bills,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “As heating costs increase, it is more important than ever to help families struggling to make ends meet. With this funding, we will help protect the health and well-being of Americans by keeping them safe and warm this winter.”
Additionally, Reed and Collins also worked to successfully include a $500 million LIHEAP investment in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (P.L. 117-58), which President Biden signed into law last November. $100 million of this LIHEAP funding will be released annually through 2026.
Rhode Islanders wishing to apply for LIHEAP may go to the Rhode Island Department of Human Services website to get more information and links to an online application. Or, Rhode Islanders may contact their local Community Action Agency. Eligibility for LIHEAP is based on income, family size, and the availability of resources.
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