Federal Grants to States

WASHINGTON, D.C.—While last winter was harsh and this one is expected to be similar, federal grants to states for heating assistance have dropped precipitously.

The grants from the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, popularly known as the LIHEAP, help low-income families pay a portion of their home energy needs. Mayors across the U.S. are formally requesting the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to continue funding this program for 2016 fiscal year.

Last year, the government provided $3.424 billion for the program, down from $5.1 billion in FY2010. That $1.7 billion cut forced about 1.4 million households to lose program funds. Moreover, the average LIHEAP beneficiary will see a reduction in benefits; funds for each household have declined from $520 in 2010 to $406 in 2013. The 2015 spending bill reduces funding for the program even further to $3.390 billion.

Eighty-seven mayors across the U.S. wrote a joint letter to President Obama Dec. 1 asking him to include $4.7 billion in federal funding for LIHEAP in his 2016 fiscal year budget request.