2007-10-05 / Community

Weiner:Energy Cost Aid for Struggling Households

With winter fast approaching, and heating and energy costs rising, Representative Anthony Weiner, a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, announced recently that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has released $13.5 million in emergency funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) in New York. The funding will help New York's lowincome citizens pay for rising energy costs.

The Low Income Heating Energy Assistance Program provides federal funding to help seniors and lowincome families pay the increasingly high cost of heating their homes. Under this program, any household that makes below 150% of the poverty line, or about $20,000 a year, is eligible for aid.

In a letter to President Bush, Weiner, along with a bipartisan group of 112 legislators, urged the Administration to release the remaining $131 million in federal funds available to LIHEAP, funds which were set to expire on September 30. At Weiner's urging, HHS released the funds before the deadline, ensuring thousands of New Yorkers would not be left out in the cold this winter.

Earlier this summer, the National Energy Assistance Directors' Association (NEADA) conducted a national survey which found that millions of low-income households this year are facing severe hardships paying arrearages from last winter's heating bills, coping with impending and actual shutoff of service, and meeting rising air conditioning costs. In New York, there are approximately 900,000 households served by LIHEAP, with the average benefit reaching $340 in aid.

"No family in New York should be forced to choose between paying an energy bill and putting food on their tables," said Rep. Weiner. "These emergency funds will go a long way towards making sure it's a warm winter for New York's middle-class and those struggling to make it."

According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), U.S residential electricity prices are expected to rise at a rate of three percent this year.

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