Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) Funds Still Not
Authorized For Spending
BCMW Community Services is calling for the full restoration of the state Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) by Nov. 1 and for the governor to authorize spending the money in the LIHEAP fund.
As of now, the state LIHEAP funds haven’t been authorized for spending and the state will not have adequate federal funds to serve the eligible population that was served with the state funding last year. If the state LIHEAP program is not restored, more than 1791 families in Bond, Clinton, Marion and Washington County won’t be able to get assistance.
“It is unacceptable that vulnerable Illinois residents have had to wait until October for help. This delay means that families with children under the age of 6 will have to wait until November for utility assistance, while other eligible Illinoisans wait until December,” said Sue Castleman, Executive Director of BCMW Community Services. “Given the harsh winters we experience in Illinois, this will be way too late for many families that rely on LIHEAP to survive. This is a serious health and safety concern for our most vulnerable neighbors.”
The budget impasse has meant that our community action agency has not been able to help almost 415 families who weer on the Percentage of Income Payment Plan, which is designed to help low-income families budget for their expenses by ensuring that their utility payments are 6 percent of their household incomes.
Since the moratorium on shut offs ended in April, there are many residents who have lost their utilities entirely and have had to wait until federal funds become available in October to have their utilities restored. This means there are households that have been without utilities for the last six months.
Illinois law requires utilities to charge their customers a small fee to fund state LIHEAP. The money the utilities collect is intended only for LIHEAP. The utilities have continued to asses the meter surcharge intended for the program and are remitting the collected funds to the State of Illinois. “It is unacceptable for the money Illinois residents have contributed through their utility bills to the state LIHEAP fund to be held hostage during this budget impasse. The Illinois Association of Community Action Agencies (IACAA) is asking the governor to support the legislature’s appropriation of state LIHEAP funds so that we can serve our most vulnerable residents by supplementing the federal funds” said Dalitso Sulamoyo, President and CEO of IACCA.
“There state LIHEAP funds are not part of the General Revenue Fund. These funds are now idly sitting in an account when they could be used to help low-income Illinoisans get their utilities restored,” said Sulamoyo.
The Illinois Association of Community Action Agencies (IACAA) is the membership organization that provides a unified voice and support to the poverty fighting network of Community Action Agencies. Visit the website at www.iacaanet.org.
BCMW Community Services is a community action agency, which provides services to the counties of Bond, Clinton, Marion and Washington. Visit our website at www.bcmwcommunityservices.org.