Washington, DC—This week, Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-27) sent a letter to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Budget Committee, requesting that the budget allocation for fiscal year 2006 include $3 billion in Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funding for low-income families, senior citizens and disabled individuals.
“Too many low-income families, disabled individuals and senior citizens are not able to afford their energy costs,” said Congressman Higgins. “Western New York gets particularly hard hit with extreme cold temperatures which cause more families to face unaffordable heating costs. Energy assistance is important to all that receive it, but more so if someone in a home is elderly, disabled or a young child. They are all at a higher risk of life threatening illness or death if their homes are too cold in the winter or too hot in the summer simply because they cannot afford heat or air conditioning. With the $3 billion requested, LIHEAP will help working low-income families, senior citizens and disabled individuals maintain economic stability.”
LIHEAP is a federally-funded program to help eligible low income households meet their home heating and/or cooling needs. Some people resort to unsafe methods to keep their homes warm or cool if they are unable to afford their energy bills. These include the use of fireplaces, stoves, improperly vented portable heaters, barbecue grills, or overloading electrical circuits. These methods are not only fire hazards, but also create the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Congressman Higgins added, “We should not force people to make a choice of whether to buy fuel to heat or cool their homes or whether to buy food for themselves and their families. Two-thirds of the families receiving LIHEAP assistance have incomes of less than $8,000 a year. This program clearly helps the people who need help the most and its funding should not be cut.”