February 02, 2018

Udall Calls on Trump to Support Funding for Heating and Energy Assistance Programs

WASHINGTON – This week, U.S. Senator Tom Udall and 10 of his Senate colleagues urged President Trump to support strong funding for important safety net programs that help low-income New Mexicans afford to stay warm in their homes during the harsh winter months. In a letter to the president, the senators emphasized the importance of maintaining funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP), which help seniors, veterans and others in need pay their energy bills and find ways to lower the cost of energy each month.

"Cold weather and winter storms across the United States have once again highlighted the importance of affordable access to home energy as a matter of health and safety for more than six million low-income households, children, veterans, and seniors. LIHEAP and WAP have long enjoyed bipartisan support, and we hope that you will prioritize funding for both programs in your fiscal year 2019 budget proposal," the senators wrote.

According to the senators, LIHEAP helps low-inome households, veterans and seniors cover their energy bills during the times of year when the cost of energy bills are highest, "providing an indispensable lifeline during both the cold winter and hot summer months…. This program helps to ensure that eligible recipients do not have to choose between paying their energy bills and affording other necessities like food and medicine."

"WAP is another important initiative, which for more than 40 years has helped to reduce the burden of high home energy prices for over 7.4 million low-income households," wrote the senators. WAP helps families lower the cost of their monthly energy bills by assisting with cost-effective home improvements that save energy – such as insulation – for low–income families, seniors, and individuals with disabilities.

Full text of the letter can be found below.

Dear Mr. President:

We write in support of two successful federal programs, the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP), which are currently helping to meet the energy needs of eligible low-income households across the country. Cold weather and winter storms across the United States have once again highlighted the importance of affordable access to home energy as a matter of health and safety for more than six million low-income households, children, veterans, and seniors. LIHEAP and WAP have long enjoyed bipartisan support, and we hope that you will prioritize funding for both programs in your fiscal year 2019 budget proposal.

LIHEAP helps low-income households, veterans, and seniors with their energy bills, providing an indispensable lifeline during both the cold winter and hot summer months. More than 71 percent of LIHEAP recipients have at least one household member who is a child under the age of six, a senior, or an individual with a disability. Additionally, according to the most recently available data, the percentage of households receiving LIHEAP that have at least one veteran is 20 percent. This program helps to ensure that eligible recipients do not have to choose between paying their energy bills and affording other necessities like food and medicine. This is especially important during the peak winter heating and summer cooling seasons, when energy bills can comprise more than 30 percent of a low-income household’s monthly income. Unfortunately, the number of households eligible for LIHEAP assistance continues to exceed the program’s capacity.

WAP is another important initiative, which for more than 40 years has helped to reduce the burden of high home energy prices for over 7.4 million low-income households. By supporting lasting and cost-effective home energy efficiency improvements for low-income families, seniors, and individuals with disabilities, WAP is increasing the energy efficiency of people’s homes, reducing residential energy bills, improving the health and safety of our most vulnerable citizens, and helping to lower the need for short-term assistance. WAP has been repeatedly demonstrated as cost-effective and has supported thousands of high quality, skilled jobs. A study by Oak Ridge National Laboratory found that weatherization saves eligible single-family homes on average $283 in annual energy cost savings, which benefits not only the household but also boosts the local economy. And in cold weather states, weatherization has reduced heating bills by 30 percent on average.

Thank you for your attention to and consideration of this important request. We recognize the ongoing challenges facing the discretionary budget and look forward to working with you to support these vital programs and ensuring access to affordable home energy for the most vulnerable households in every state.

Sincerely,