Kuster Derides LIHEAP Cuts that Leave Low-Income New Hampshire Families Out In the Cold

LIHEAP provides low-income households – including those with young children, individuals with disabilities, and seniors – with heating assistance to help pay energy bills during the winter
In New Hampshire, funding for this program has declined every year since 2008, yet sequestration cut more than $1.6 million from LIHEAP in 2013; Kuster reiterates her call for Congress to restore LIHEAP funding for NH families
Kuster: It’s unconscionable to cut LIHEAP for Granite Staters who could go cold without it

KEENE, N.H. – December 16, 2013 – (RealEstateRama) — As the cold winter months get underway in New Hampshire and across the country, Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) today derided cuts to the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) that have resulted from across-the-board budget cuts known as sequestration. During a visit to Southwestern Community Services (SCS) in Keene, Kuster underscored the harmful impacts of cutting LIHEAP for New Hampshire families and called on Congress to replace the sequester with a more responsible budget that restores vital funding for heating assistance.

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Kuster was joined during the visit by Keith Thibault, Development Director of SCS; Beth Daniels, SCS’ Energy Services Director; John Rider, Vice Chairman of the N.H. Oil Heat Council; and Elizabeth Sayre, Human Services Manager for the City of Keene, among others.

“LIHEAP helps some of New Hampshire’s most vulnerable children, seniors, and families make it through the winter,” Kuster said. “It’s unconscionable to cut this vital program for Granite Staters who could go cold without it. With a long and cold winter ahead, we to restore vital LIHEAP funding to help low-income families stay warm this winter.”

Despite the fact that LIHEAP funding in New Hampshire has fallen every year since 2008, sequestration cut more than $1.6 million from the program in FY 2013, eliminating heating assistance for more than 1,200 low-income New Hampshire households – including those with young children, individuals with disabilities, and seniors. Last week, Kuster voted in favor of a bipartisan budget agreement that would reduce the impact of the sequester for the coming years and could lead to the restoration of some LIHEAP funding.

Since 2008, annual LIHEAP funding in New Hampshire has fallen by more than $25 million:

Program Year 2008-2009: $50,966,452
Program Year 2009-2010: $36,624,031
Program Year 2010-2011: $36,050,212
Program Year 2011-2012: $26,055,370
Program Year 2012-2013: $24,321,370

According to the National Energy Assistance Directors’ Association (NEADA), the total number of households nationwide receiving heating assistance fell by 194,000 in FY 2013 due to the sequester, from 6.9 million in FY 2012 to roughly 6.7 million in FY 2013. These cuts come on top of additional cuts that took effect in the previous few years. From FY 2010 to FY 2012 alone, the number of American households that received heating assistance declined by 17%, from 8.1 million to 6.7 million.

Kuster has repeatedly called on Congress to replace the harmful sequester with a more balanced, responsible plan to reduce the deficit, create jobs, and strengthen the middle class. In July, Kuster met with seniors at the Windham Senior Center to highlight the negative impact sequestration is having on the Meals on Wheels program that helps feed hungry seniors. Kuster also criticized sequestration cuts to the Head Start program during a visit with students and families at Southwestern Community Services.

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