United States Conference of Mayors to Congress: Increase LIHEAP Funds, Protect Our Nation’s Most Vulnerable PopulationsBy Claire Krawsczyn In Congressional Profile, Legislative Updates, LIHEAP Blog/News Updates, Local Profiles, Media Releases
San Francisco, CA – During its 83rd Annual Meeting, the United States Conference of Mayors (USCM) today passed a resolution calling on Congress to increase funding and the appropriations of the Low Income Home Energy Program (LIHEAP) to $4.7 billion in FY2016. Submitted by Mayor Martin J. Walsh of Boston and Mayor Francis G. Slay of St. Louis, the resolution identifies LIHEAP as an essential resource for our communities’ most underserved populations.”
“Energy costs continue to place an enormous burden on our households due to rising costs, severe weather and record numbers of households coming forward for assistance,” said Mayor Walsh. “Without additional help, low-income families in the Northeast are faced with a terrible dilemma: keep their homes safe and run the risk of disconnection, or turn their heat off to lower the cost of heating their homes. That’s why we are calling on our federal partners to step up and prioritize LIHEAP funding to keep our families warm during the coldest months of the year.”
The resolution calls for a much-needed shift away from the trend of declining funds LIHEAP has experienced in recent years. Since FY2010, total funding for the program has declined from $5.1 billion to $3.4 billion in FY2015. Last week, the Labor, Health & Human Services Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee voted for a slight decrease in LIHEAP funding ($3.365 billion) for FY2016.
“I am proud to be among this group of Mayors who sees the value and importance of protecting our cities’ most vulnerable populations,” Mayor Slay said. “I commend and thank my fellow Mayors from across the country for their continued support of LIHEAP and the families the program serves.”
Noting that “LIHEAP is an exceptionally efficient and targeted program,” the resolution reflects the message that LIHEAP champions, including the Campaign for Home Energy Assistance, have been advocating on the Hill: that home energy costs continue to rise, greatly impacting the 45 million individuals who fall below the national poverty level, often forcing families to choose between heating and cooling their homes or paying for food and medication.
LIHEAP supporters have regularly called on Congress to increase funding to $4.7 billion in FY2016. As indicated in the resolution, the current funding levels support only 6.7 million households—a far cry from the total number of households who meet LIHEAP qualifications.
“We thank the US Conference of Mayors for supporting this program and the millions of families who rely on LIHEAP funds every year,” said Michael Bracy, Chair of the Campaign for Home Energy Assistance. “We hope your vote of confidence sends a message to Congress and serves as a reminder that decisions made on the Hill impact communities across the country.”