U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) announced Monday that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) decision to release approximately $609.43 million to states through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) means an additional $4.5 million will be made available to Rhode Island.
The funding, in addition to the $22.4 million already allocated to the state, brings the Ocean State’s total to approximately $26.9 million this fiscal year.
“This additional funding will provide an important measure of relief to many Rhode Islanders in need and some added budget certainty to community organizations distributing the assistance,” said Senator Reed, who, along with Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), successfully led the bipartisan effort to secure funding for LIHEAP as part of the 2018 Omnibus Appropriations bill.
In September, Reed and Collins led a bipartisan letter signed by 37 colleagues urging HHS to release funds as quickly and at as high a level as possible under the continuing resolution (CR) to allow states to be ready for the winter heating season. In October, HHS responded by releasing nearly $3 billion in LIHEAP funding nationwide. Today’s installment represents the remaining funds available under the program for this fiscal year.
“LIHEAP funds are now available for folks needing assistance with their energy bills. Residents seeking LIHEAP aid may schedule an appointment with their local Community Action Program office to apply,” said Reed, who noted the program reaches nearly 35,000 Rhode Islanders.
Last year, Rhode Island received a total of $25,333,324 in federal LIHEAP assistance. As a result of increased appropriations, this year’s allocation represents a $1.57 million boost for Rhode Island families in need of LIHEAP assistance.
Rhode Islanders wishing to apply for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program may go to the Rhode Island Department of Human Services website to get more information and links to an online application. Or, Rhode Islanders may contact their local Community Action Program (CAP) Agency.
Eligibility for LIHEAP is based on income, family size, and the availability of resources. Eligibility guidelines for the 2017-18 LIHEAP season are the same as last year and are set at 60% of the Rhode Island median income.