11.02.22

Leahy, Sanders And Welch Announce $25.4 Million To Help Vermonters With Rising Home Heating Costs This Winter

(WEDNESDAY, Nov. 2, 2022) – Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and U.S. Representative Peter Welch (D-Vt.) Wednesday announced that Vermont will be receiving $25.4 million in funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).

Led by Leahy, the Continuing Appropriations Act, which became law in September, included $1 billion in new supplemental funding for LIHEAP.

Administered through the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), this funding will help low-income households pay for home heating costs this winter and cover unpaid utility bills.? These funds will also help families make cost-effective home energy repairs to lower their heating and cooling bills.

Leahy said:  “No family should have to choose between ‘heat or eat’ in Vermont or in any community across the country.  The third-hottest summer on record had already put a strain on LIHEAP funding, so I am glad that President Biden was able to get these new resources out the door to Vermonters in need before the cold of winter sets in.  Vermonters know too well how quickly the cold weather can come.  Turning up the heat is not just for comfort, it is critical for the health and safety of all members of the household, particularly seniors and young children, not to mention water pipes.  This program goes a long way in helping families pay their bills when faced with rising fuel costs and plummeting temperatures.  I encourage all Vermonters who think they may be eligible for this program to reach out to their local Community Action Agency and sign up for LIHEAP assistance.”

Leahy was the leading advocate for securing $1 billion in new funding for the popular program in the Continuing Appropriations Act to address rising energy costs, which has brought an additional $5.7 million to Vermont. More than 6 million households rely on LIHEAP to defray their home energy costs nationwide.  Today’s announcement is in-line with a Senate letter signed by Leahy and Sanders calling for the quick release of LIHEAP funds last month.

The total funding announced Wednesday includes the additional $1 billion appropriated by Congress to address rising energy costs, as well as $100 million appropriated for 2023 from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

Vermont was awarded a total of $25,434,445 to assist low-income families ahead of the winter season.  This includes: $19,146,884 from the traditional LIHEAP block grant funding; $5,716,220 in new supplemental funding from the Continuing Appropriations Act; and $571,341 in funding appropriated for Fiscal Year 2023 from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

Sanders said:  “With gas and energy prices soaring and too many Vermonters struggling to make ends meet, the LIHEAP program is, more than ever, a major lifeline that helps people across our state stay safe and warm through the winter season. Every year I am proud to fight to strengthen this program so that Vermonters get the assistance they need to heat their homes. I also want to thank the state of Vermont and our Community Action Agencies for the great work they do to help Vermonters access this critical aid. In my view, in the richest country on Earth, no one should be forced to choose between putting food on the table, paying for their prescription drugs, and heating their homes. In these difficult times, programs like LIHEAP are important steps in the right direction.” 

Welch said:  “With heating costs high and winter right around the corner, it’s critical that we help low-income Vermonters keep their homes warm through winter. We have to do everything we can to make sure working families have the support they need. LIHEAP helps do just that. I am glad to have worked alongside Senators Leahy and Sanders to secure this additional funding for Vermonters, and I’m grateful to the Biden administration for their work to distribute funds as quickly as possible. I also want to thank Senator Leahy for his steadfast leadership in the fight for LIHEAP funding throughout his time in the Senate. His work as Chair of the Appropriations Committee has been critical to securing increased assistance in Vermont and across the country.”

LIHEAP has proven to be one of the most effective safety net programs, successfully leveraging investments from all stakeholders in keeping families safe and healthy.  The funding arrives ahead of a winter heating season where inflation and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine are expected to further strain families’ ability to heat their homes. 

Individuals interested in applying for energy assistance can visit energyhelp.us or call the National Energy Assistance Referral (NEAR) hotline toll-free at: 1-866-674-6327.  

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