LIHEAP Advocates Defend Program
Writing and Reporting by Jake Brown
- Examples of Congressional members spending time personally with their most vulnerable constituents to put a human face on LIHEAP’s critical role in their lives included Connecticut Representative Rosa Delauro visiting with Roger Martin, a CT resident and LIHEAP recipient who certified that “the heating program may have saved my life this year,” while working mother Amanda Diaz reasoned that “my daughter has asthma. My heating bill a month is over $250, if I didn’t have assistance from the energy program, she would probably be in the hospital. Watch the news report covering Representative Delauro’s visits with recipients.
- Recipient Chrisann Keeney, who lives with a disability, made the equally powerful point that “everybody that’s on these programs has a purpose, you’re talking about human lives. Put those numbers away. Put those folders away. Start thinking about who you’re really affecting. You’re affecting the future,” leading Congresswoman Delauro to add in closing on the cumulative impact on these families even before facing further LIHEAP cuts that “nearly one third of families reported that they went without food, Over 40% sacrificed medical care and a quarter had become sick because their homes were too cold.”
- In Pennsylvania, Governor Tom Wolf – a longtime LIHEAP advocate – noted that “hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable were able to heat their homes this winter because of LIHEAP,” and because frigid temperatures were still persisting, he was extending the winter season’s March 31st end date to April 7th. Read more about Governor Wolf’s support of LIHEAP in Pennsylvania.
- The National Grid even lit up with alarm over LIHEAP’s elimination, warning households across New York, Massachusetts and Rhode Island that of deeper implications for cuts that “when a customer qualifies for LIHEAP funding, National Grid is able to use that eligibility to automatically qualify those individuals for additional low-income programs like fuel funds, weatherization, and energy efficiency programs that utilities are in a unique position to provide.” View the full press release.
- In New Jersey, State Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman nervously quipped “fortunately, this is solely a proposal…” Read the assessment of LIHEAP and New Jersey politics.
- Next door in New York, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand scoffed at the suggestion her constituents could do without LIHEAP when “it’s cold out, there’s no choice – it’s dangerous to go without heat in New York, many New Yorkers already use a federal program called LIHEAP to pay for heat “This is dangerous, irresponsible and totally ignores the very real needs of families in New York who don’t have enough money to pay for a heating bill on their own. What are these families suppose to do when they can’t pay for heat in the winter? Are we supposed to just let them freeze?” Read the full article here.
- In Appalachia, Republican US Congressman Hal Rogers of Kentucky bluntly rejected the proposed LIHEAP cuts, characterizing “many of the reductions and eliminations proposed in the President’s skinny budget” as “draconian, careless and counterproductive… including those agencies which serve as vital economic lifelines in rural parts of the country that are still working to overcome substantial challenges,” before warning the White House that “Congress ultimately has the power of the purse.” Take a look at the breakdown of how LIHEAP is affecting rural populations, and visit our blog on LIHEAP in Rural America here.
- Indiana alerted its citizens that as the frost began to thaw from cornfields across the state, the moratorium on winter-utility shut-offs due to past-due heating bills was ending as well. Learn more about LIHEAP in Indiana.
- Out West in Arizona, Cynthia Zwick, executive director of the Arizona Community Action Association, warned of the far-reaching implications of the potential cuts to LIHEAP that “the cuts could go deeper because several institutions, including utilities, match the federal funding for those programs.” Listen as Arizona reporters discuss the budget’s impact and Zwick’s comments on LIHEAP.
- In Oregon, Paula Hall, CEO of Community Action Program of East Central Oregon, candidly questioned whether the families she serves could ” survive without that? We had a treacherous season for a lot of our clients.” Understand the impact of LIHEAP cuts on Oregon Charities.