U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Carl Levin (D-MI) today announced that the state of Michigan will receive $5,269,296 in emergency funding to help families pay the anticipated high cost of fuel this winter. The funding is being awarded as part of the Department of Health and Human Services Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which helps pay the cost of heating and cooling bills for millions of low-income families, seniors, and individuals with disabilities.
"With energy prices skyrocketing, and families being squeezed on all sides, the need for emergency energy assistance has never been greater," said Stabenow. "Michigan families should not have to choose between putting food on the table and paying their energy bills. This announcement is welcome news and will allocate millions of emergency energy relief dollars to our most vulnerable citizens."
"LIHEAP funds provide essential assistance to families throughout Michigan who are struggling with the cost of heating their homes during cold Michigan winters," Levin said. "With the price of energy already sky-high and rising, this funding will provide welcome relief for many families in the state."
In 2008, Michigan has provided over 526,300 households with LIHEAP financial assistance. Michigan families receiving LIHEAP assistance have incomes below 110 percent of the federal poverty level. Of those individuals in Michigan receiving LIHEAP assistance, 32% are seniors, 20% are children under the age of 5, and 18% are persons with disabilities.
According to the National Energy Assistance Directors' Association, the average cost to heat a home this winter will be about $1,114, almost 15 percent more than last year's $972. The cost of home heating with heating oil is projected to reach $2,593, natural gas $978, propane $1,967 and electricity $875.
The LIHEAP program is administered through HHS, under which states, territories, and tribes receive annual grants to operate home energy assistance programs for over 5 million low-income households. This money then goes to local agencies, such as the Salvation Army, to be administered.