Congressman Tom Reed announced Monday he will introduce a bill to direct much needed home heating assistance to low income individuals and families in the coldest states in the country. Reed's Low Income Heating Improve-ment Act would restore the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program to its original intent, providing financial assistance to states that need it most.
"Winter months bring rising energy costs that low income families and individuals often struggle to meet," Congressman Reed said. "My goal is to direct funds to those states that need it most. It's important we care for these households where heating is not a luxury, it is a necessity."
Congressman Reed said LIHEAP has become a general energy assistance program as opposed to its original mission to protect low income households that struggle most in cold weather states. The formula for allotting funds to states to administer LIHEAP benefits originally provided greater consideration for low income households facing cold weather conditions. Formula changes since the program's inception in 1981 have shifted the focus to a general energy assistance program, diverting funds away from some of the coldest states in the country where there is the greatest need for heating assistance.
"The Low Income Heating Improvement Act restores the original formula so that funds are fairly directed first to those states that battle temperatures routinely below freezing and often much colder," Congressman Reed continued. "The old formula in recent years would have provided $100 million more for low income New York families to deal with heating needs than the new formula."
Congressman Reed introduced similar legislation during the 112th Congress with 15 co-sponsors and strong bipartisan support from the New York delegation. "It's a common sense return to priorities that not only cares for families not able to afford their home energy bills, but a way of protecting hardworking taxpayer dollars by directing funding where there is greatest need."
The LIHEAP formula is based on a computation of climate, household income and energy costs for low income households.