Mayor Walsh leads resolution calling for increased LIHEAP funding
June 22, 2015
Mayor Martin J. Walsh today, alongside Mayor Francis Slay of St. Louis, submitted a resolution to the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM), calling on Congress to increase funding and the appropriations of the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) to $4.7 billion in Fiscal Year (FY) 2016. The resolution, which was overwhelmingly passed, identifies LIHEAP as an “essential resource for our communities’ most underserved populations.” More than 20 mayors from across the country pledged their support of LIHEAP during USCM’s 83rd Annual Meeting.
"Energy costs continue to place an enormous burden on our households due to rising costs, severe weather and record numbers of households coming forward for assistance," said Mayor Walsh. "Without additional help, low income families in the Northeast are faced with a terrible dilemma: keep their homes safe and run the risk of disconnection, or turn their heat off to lower the cost of heating their homes. That's why we are calling on our federal partners to step up and prioritize LIHEAP funding to keep our families warm during the coldest months of the year."
LIHEAP funding has continued to decline in recent years. Since FY10, total funding for the program has declined from $5.1 billion to $3.4 billion in FY15. Last week, the Labor, Health & Human Services Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee voted for a slight decrease in LIHEAP funding ($3.365 billion) for FY16.
“I am proud to be among this group of Mayors who sees the value and importance of protecting our cities’ most vulnerable populations,” said Mayor Slay. “I commend and thank my fellow Mayors from across the country for their continued support of LIHEAP and the families the program serves.”
Energy costs continue to place an enormous burden on households due to rising costs, severe weather and record numbers of households coming forward for assistance. Countrywide, 45 million individuals fall below the national poverty level, and in Massachusetts alone, more than 183,000 households received support through LIHEAP. This program is an essential resource for our families in need, particularly the elderly, working poor, families with young children and individuals with disabilities, to pay their home heating and cooling bills. Without this help, low-income families are faced with a terrible dilemma: keep their homes safe and run the risk of disconnection, or turn their heat off to lower the cost of heating their homes. LIHEAP enables our families to stay warm and remain in good standing with utility companies during our brutally cold winters.
This past December, Mayor Walsh and Mayor Slay co-chaired a letter to President Obama requesting an increase to LIHEAP funding in FY16. In a testament to the importance of this program and its effect on families from coast to coast, 85 other mayors—from both sides of the political aisle—signed onto the letter.