Congressman Roscoe Bartlett said, "With forecasts of a colder than average winter coming and Maryland's coldest weather combined with greater poverty in western Maryland, I have joined a bipartisan group of 90 House members to call for the swiftest possible release of federal LIHEAP funds to assist low income Americans pay their utility bills. I hope there are no bureaucratic delays providing these funds."
Congressman Bartlett joined 89 House colleagues who have sent a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to release funds for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) program allocated under the Continuing Resolution (CR). The CR provides funding for federal government discretionary programs through this winter. Text of the letter is below.
More information about applying for assistance from the LIHEAP program is available at http://utility-help.com/state/MD.
The Honorable Kathleen Sebelius
United States Department of Health and Human Services
200 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20201
Dear Secretary Sebelius:
The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is a vital safety net for many low-income families, especially for our elderly, our disabled, and our veterans. As state agencies prepare their LIHEAP programs for the coming winter, it is imperative that the Department of Health and Human Services immediately release as much LIHEAP funding as possible under the current continuing resolution (CR).
As you know, spending patterns for LIHEAP assistance are not consistent throughout the fiscal year. Instead, the majority of assistance in many states is distributed during the winter months to offset high home heating costs. Many state governors have also projected that delays in LIHEAP funding would result in families across the country having unmet heating needs this winter. As you are also aware, low-income families spend a higher percentage of their income on energy costs. This is especially true during times of extreme temperatures and increased energy prices. October marks the beginning of the coldest months for many families, and with continued elevated levels of unemployment across our states, this year's heating season will be an even greater struggle. The timing is crucial for the release of the majority of LIHEAP funding.
Accordingly, we believe it is critical that the states begin the process of assisting thoseindividuals with the greatest needs immediately. We request that you release as much LIHEAP funding as possible under the current CR without delay, in order to allow states and low-income households the resources they need to prepare for a challenging winter. With forecasts for above-normal snowfall for all major I-95 cities, including New York City, Philadelphia, and Baltimore, the timing is critical.
Thank you for your continued support of the LIHEAP program and for your consideration of this request.