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Over Fifty Members of Congress Urge Appropriators to Fund Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program

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Location: Washington, DC


Over Fifty Members of Congress Urge Appropriators to Fund Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program

WASHINGTON - Over fifty Members of Congress, led by Congresswoman Rosa L. DeLauro (Conn.-3) today wrote to Appropriations Chairman Bill Young requesting $600 million in emergency funding to the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). The legislators requested this funding as appropriators consider funding of emergency assistance for areas hard-hit by Hurricanes Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne.

"We strongly support rapid passage of emergency assistance for areas hard-hit by natural disasters," wrote the legislators. "We also urge, however, that the Congress not wait until after cold weather arrives to shore-up the LIHEAP program."

"For too many American families the onset of winter and the costs of home heating are a financial burden," said DeLauro. "While Congress comes to the aid of areas hard hit by natural disaster, it is imperative that we not lose sight of the home heating costs that plague American families each winter."

According to a survey conducted last winter, LIHEAP helped restore heat to 62 percent of those who lost it last year because they could not pay their bills. Fifty four percent of recipients would have kept their homes at an unsafe temperature without LIHEAP, and 48 percent would have had their electricity or heat shut off.

During the last five years, 38 percent of LIHEAP recipients went without medical or dental care, 28 percent did not make a rent or mortgage payment and 22 percent subsisted without food for at least one day. Further, half of home heating fires and three-quarters of home heating fire deaths occur during the winter, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

The full text of the letter follows.

Dear Mr. Chairman:

As you prepare to consider a supplemental funding request to provide much-needed assistance to areas that have been hit hard by Hurricanes Charley, Frances and Ivan, we write to ask that you include $600 million emergency Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funding to prevent a severe, but preventable, crisis for Americans who will face the staggering costs of home heating energies this winter.

We strongly support rapid passage of emergency assistance for areas hard-hit by natural disasters. We also urge, however, that the Congress not wait until after cold weather arrives to shore-up the LIHEAP program.

High oil prices this summer raised the price of gasoline, resulting in increased financial difficulties for some consumers. As summer turns into fall, however, Americans continue to face record prices for oil, natural gas and propane. According to the Energy Information Administration, prices for these heating fuels are expected to be dramatically more expensive than in previous years. This winter, the cost of heating a residence with oil is expected to be $1,094 (an increase of 45% over the period 1998-2000), the cost of propane heating will be $1,271 (a 32% increase), and the cost of natural gas heating will be $993 (a 47% increase). Without additional federal assistance, we believe that the states' low-income heating assistance programs will run out of money well before the end of the winter.

Without additional funding, a mere 13 percent of the more than 34.6 million applicants will receive assistance. For those lucky enough to participate in LIHEAP, the program is a lifesaver. According to a survey conducted last winter, LIHEAP helped restore heat to 62 percent of those who lost it last year because they could not pay their bills. Fifty four percent of recipients would have kept their homes at an unsafe temperature without LIHEAP, and 48 percent would have had their electricity or heat shut off.

Further, the study's findings reveal the often dangerous sacrifices that LIHEAP participants must make in order to supply their homes with energy. Seventy-eight percent reduced basic expenses for household necessities to afford their energy bill, and 30 percent used their kitchen stove for heat. During the last five years, 38 percent of LIHEAP recipients went without medical or dental care, 28 percent did not make a rent or mortgage payment and 22 percent subsisted without food for at least one day. Further, half of home heating fires and three-quarters of home heating fire deaths occur during the winter, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

We strongly supported the House's vote to add $22 million to the LIHEAP account in Fiscal Year 2005, but we fear that this program remains chronically underfunded. We therefore respectfully request that a supplemental spending bill provide $600 million for states to meet the coming LIHEAP funding crisis.

Thank you very much for your attention to this important request.

Sincerely,

ROSA L. DELAURO
EDWARD J. MARKEY
JACK QUINN
JOE HOEFFEL
SHERWOOD BOEHLERT
JOHN B. LARSON
JOHN MCHUGH
JOHN OLVER
CHARLES BASS
BETTY MCCOLLUM
VITO FOSSELLA
BERNIE SANDERS
MICHAEL CASTLE
STEPHEN F. LYNCH
ROB SIMMONS
TED STRICKLAND
PETER KING
IKE SKELTON
GERALD KLECZKA
TOM UDALL
MIKE MCINTYRE
BOBBY RUSH
LUIS GUTIERREZ
JAMES P. MCGOVERN
RICHARD NEAL
BARNEY FRANK
MARTY MEEHAN
DALE KILDEE
BART STUPAK
FRANK PALLONE
CAROLYN MALONEY
SHERROD BROWN
TAMMY BALDWIN
MICHAEL DOYLE
JIM LANGEVIN
STEVE ISRAEL
RON KIND
JERROLD NADLER
RAHM EMANUEL
LANE EVANS
JOSE SERRANO
MICHAEL MICHAUD
TOM ALLEN
JOHN D. DINGELL
JULIA CARSON
ROBERT ANDREWS
MAURICE HINCHEY
RICK BOUCHER
JIM MCDERMOTT
MIKE ROSS
STEPHANIE TUBBS JONES
MAJOR R. OWENS
JOHN TIERNEY
JAN SCHAKOWSKY
TIM HOLDEN
BOBBY SCOTT

cc: Ranking Member David Obey

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