Dear Secretary Azar:
As state agencies prepare their Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) programs for the winter, we respectfully request that the Department of Health and Human Services release the LIHEAP funds included in the fiscal year 2019 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Act as quickly as possible.
LIHEAP is the main federal program that helps low-income households and seniors with their energy bills, providing critical assistance during the cold winter and hot summer months. This funding has been an indispensable lifeline during challenging economic times, helping to ensure that recipients do not have to choose between paying their energy bills and paying for other necessities like food or medicine. On average, low-income families and seniors spend a higher proportion of their income on energy, and for many states, October marks the start of the heating season, creating an additional constraint on these household budgets.
As the relevant state agencies begin to provide assistance for this winter, it is critical that they have the resources to assist low-income households and seniors as soon as possible. Therefore, we request that you quickly release LIHEAP funds in order to allow states and low-income households to prepare for the upcoming season.
We look forward to continuing to work with you on this critical program, and thank you for your attention to our concerns and those of our constituents.