Press Releases

Jan 30 2012

ROCKEFELLER ANNOUNCES $22 MILLION IN HOME HEATING ASSISTANCE FOR WEST VIRGINIA FAMILIES AND SENIORS

Also Urges President to Keep Money Consistent for Home Energy Support in Next Budget

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Senator Jay Rockefeller today announced that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released over $22 million in funds for West Virginia’s Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). 

“A warm home in the winter is one of the most basic human needs, like food, water and clothing,” said Rockefeller.  “We still face some tough economic times, but this critical money is there for families who need it so that they don’t have to choose between heating their home and putting food on the table.” 

The funding will help families and seniors heat their homes and pay their energy bills this winter.  It comes from the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2012 which Congress passed in December with Rockefeller’s support.  In addition to this funding, West Virginia is expected to receive almost $7.5 million more for LIHEAP this year.

Rockefeller also joined 39 other Senators in signing a letter to President Obama urging him to avoid cutting funds for LIHEAP in his budget for the 2013 fiscal year which is expected to be released in the next few weeks.

Rockefeller added, “We can be diligent about reducing the deficit and trimming fat from the budget, but cutting programs like LIHEAP that provide needed assistance is not the way to do it, and I will continue to fight for this program and the people it serves.”

Click here to view a copy of the letter to President Obama from January 18.

Background

In December of 2011, Senator Rockefeller introduced a bipartisan bill to make sure that LIHEAP is fully funded this year.  The LIHEAP Protection Act would make sure that this vital safety net will not be put on the chopping block so that struggling families and seniors can pay their home heating expenses throughout the winter.

LIHEAP is a block grant program under which the federal government gives annual grants to states, territories, and Indian tribal organizations to operate home energy assistance programs for needy households.  The program receives funding from two sources: contingency funds and regular funds.  Contingency funds are allocated to states at the discretion of the President and the Secretary of Health and Human Services.  These funds may be released at any point in the fiscal year to provide additional home energy assistance.  Regular funds are allocated in the annual appropriations bill. 

LIHEAP provides energy assistance to about 111,500 West Virginia households a year. Of those households that received assistance in 2010, 25 percent were elderly, 52 percent were disabled, and 23 percent had children under five years old in the home.

West Virginians can seek assistance from LIHEAP by reaching out to professionally trained staff members at their respective County Assistance Offices.  Click here to view a list of county offices throughout West Virginia.

###