The Patrick-Murray Administration today announced $77.6 million in federal funding to provide heating assistance to low income residents in Massachusetts. The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funding will be distributed to 22 regional agencies across the Commonwealth that will administer the funds to households in need.
In anticipation of higher fuel costs, Governor Deval Patrick organized a bipartisan coalition of more than a dozen governors to send a letter urging Congressional leaders to bring LIHEAP funding for FY2012 up to the same levels it was funded in FY2011. The letter, citing 27 percent and 15 percent increases for retail prices of residential heating oil and propane fuels respectively and an overall 10 percent increase for households using delivered fuels, calls on Congress to provide $4.7 billion for the program nationwide. The level funding would provide Massachusetts and other states with the resources to help keep vulnerable families warm this winter season.
"These critical funds will help our families and individuals in need of assistance to heat their homes this winter," said Governor Deval Patrick. "My thanks go out to the Obama Administration and our Congressional delegation for their support, and we will continue to advocate for more resources to sustain this program into the future."
"This significant funding will help us keep more of our residents warm this winter," said Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray. "We look forward to working with our partner agencies to provide assistance to those in need as we head into these cold winter months."
The fuel assistance funds provide eligible households with help in paying a portion of their winter heating bills. Eligibility for the program is based on household size and the gross annual income of every household member, 18 years of age or older. The maximum income eligibility for LIHEAP is 60 percent of estimated state median income. Current benefit levels vary depending on household income.
Funded through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, LIHEAP is managed by the Department of Housing and Community Development in conjunction with 22 regional nonprofit and local government organizations.
"I'm glad some LIHEAP funding is finally getting out the door to assist Massachusetts families with heating their homes," said U.S. Senator Scott Brown. "Now, Congress and the Obama Administration must work together to make sure this critical program receives sufficient funding this winter."
Last year, DHCD served more than 210,000 Massachusetts households through the program, and expects the need to be even greater this winter.
"I applaud Governor Patrick's announcement of the swift distribution of LIHEAP funds," said Congressman Edward J. Markey. "After facing the immediate challenges of the October snow storm, it is essential that our constituents receive the home heating support they need. Massachusetts families should not be forced to choose between heating and eating during these tough economic times, and this program is a lifeline to prepare for the upcoming winter. I look forward to continuing our work with the Governor to ensure that we get the maximum amount of funding for this program to ensure that Massachusetts residents aren't left out in the cold."
"The weather is turning and so many people will have trouble heating their homes this winter because the cost is so high," said Congressman Mike Capuano. "These federal funds can make it a little easier for families to get through the cold winter. I hope we'll be able to do more in the months ahead."
"This is another important example of federal tax revenues being put to good use," said Congressman Barney Frank. "My only regret is that bad national spending priorities continue to put so much money into wasteful areas like military bases in Europe and agricultural subsidies for the wealthy -- and too little for programs like this."
"There are thousands of families across Massachusetts who rely on LIHEAP assistance to heat their homes each winter," said Congressman Stephen F. Lynch. "As anyone who lives in New England realizes, this funding is critical and I am very pleased to see that it will now be allocated to those in need."
"Adequate funding for LIHEAP is absolutely essential for thousands of our most vulnerable neighbors," said Congressman Jim McGovern. "I'm especially proud of the work that Citizens for Citizens in Fall River and the Worcester Community Action Council do to help those in need. Along with my colleagues in the delegation, I will continue to fight for this vital program."
"Many of our local seniors and working families are already struggling to cover heating costs," said Congressman John Tierney. "With this funding, hopefully those in our community who need a little help to get through the cold winter months may not have to choose between putting food on the table and purchasing fuel to heat their homes. I know the community action agencies in this district work very hard to get this assistance where it is most needed, and I and the delegation will be working to ensure future needs are met as well."
"As last weekend's storm demonstrated, losing power and heat during the winter time can be dangerous for any household," said Congresswoman Niki Tsongas. "For far too many families, insufficient access to heat is a reality throughout the winter. The release of these federal funds will help some households defray heating costs, but many more remain in need of assistance this winter which is why we will continue to fight to restore fuel assistance funding to appropriate levels."
"Families and individuals across the Commonwealth are struggling to make ends meet and this funding is essential to protecting families in need and helping them get through another tough winter," said Senate President Therese Murray. "More than $4 million of the federal funds are being directed to the South Shore Community Action Council in my district and I'm happy that we will be able to help our most vulnerable residents heat their homes."
"The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program funding helps to ensure that no family will be left out in the cold this winter," said House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo. "I applaud the Patrick-Murray Administration for their hard work in making these critical funds available to families in need across our Commonwealth."
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