Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today announced that the just-passed Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations bill includes $3.7 billion for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). This bipartisan legislation was signed into law on Friday and provides a $50 million increase from FY 2018. LIHEAP is the main federal program that helps low-income households and seniors pay their energy bills, providing vital assistance during both the cold winter and hot summer months. New York State is the largest beneficiary in the nation of LIHEAP funding, with over one million New Yorkers relying on the program.
“Hundreds of thousands of fixed-income seniors and low to moderate-income New Yorkers rely on LIHEAP funding every year to help pay for the home heating costs that have become a larger and larger share of their budget. With the harsh New York winter only a few months away now, this $3.7 billion federal investment will help the state’s most vulnerable cover their high energy costs,” said Senator Schumer. “I was proud to fight for these critical funds in the Senate, and will always work to ensure that New Yorkers don’t have to make the decision of whether to pay their energy bills or put food on the dinner table.”
“No New Yorker should be forced to choose between keeping their homes warm during the winter, or cool during the summer, and paying for their food or rent,” said Senator Gillibrand. “LIHEAP is a lifeline for over one million New Yorkers who rely on this critical program to cover their energy bills. I fought for this funding to be included in this year’s Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations bill and will always work to make sure that no family is left behind.”
LIHEAP assists low-income households and seniors who spend a high proportion of their total household income on home energy. The program provides funding to recipients during the cold winter and hot summer months, when energy costs are at their highest. The funding can offset the cost of more efficient heating units in the winter, more efficient air conditioners in the summer, and utility bills. LIHEAP assistance can also cover the costs for bulk fuels, coal, pellets, wood, and other utilities.
Schumer and Gillibrand have long fought to secure more funding for the LIHEAP program. In April, Gillibrand joined a bipartisan push with 43 Senate colleagues advocating for LIHEAP and rejecting President Trump’s proposal to eliminate funding for this critical program.