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 replace the sequester and restore LIHEAP funding for NH families
Kuster: It’s unconscionable to cut LIHEAP for Granite Staters who could go cold without it
NASHUA, N.H. – December 9, 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 Southern New Hampshire Services (SNHS) in Nashua, 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.
Kuster was joined at the event by Gale Hennessey, Executive Director of SNHS; Tracy Desmarais, Energy and Crisis Coordinator at SNHS; Jeanne Agri, Child Development Director at SNHS; and Celeste Lovett, Fuel Assistance Program Manager at the New Hampshire Office of Energy and Planning.
“LIHEAP helps some of our state’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, Congress needs to step up and pass a budget that will restore LIHEAP funding and protect low-income and middle class Granite Staters.”
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.
“Our Fuel Assistance Program provides critical benefits to those who need them most,” said Celeste Lovett, Fuel Assistance Program Manager at the N.H. Office of Energy Planning. “Sequester cuts in program year 2013 cut benefits for New Hampshire families by $1.7 million, and that reduction is on top of reduced assistance in recent years. Decreased funding combined with rising prices for deliverable fuels like heating oil reduce the program’s ability to provide a meaningful heating benefit to New Hampshire’s most vulnerable citizens.”
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.