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LIHEAP Case Study on GPRA Plan and Report for FY 2005

Published: May 1, 2005
Audience:
Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
Category:
Publications/Reports, Case Studies

Part II: Program Description and Performance Analysis

7.3     LOW-INCOME HOME ENERGY ASSISTANCE (LIHEAP)

 

Total Program Resources:

Request, Full Costs, & Annual Measures

($ in millions)

FY 2003 FY 2004 FY 2005
Budget Request (Program Level) $1,788.3 $1,888.8 $2,000.5
Estimated Full Cost $1,790.1 $1,890.7 $2,002.5

Program Goal: Increase availability of fuel assistance

Incorporates measure: FY 2003-2005:
7.3a-b

$179.0

$226.9

$240.3

* The distribution of full costs to performance measures may not equal the full cost of the performance program area.

ALLOCATION METHODOLOGY EXPLANATION: Performance measures represent 10% of full cost of program in 2003 and 12% of full cost of program in 2004-2005. Not included were block grants to states and Tribes to provide energy assistance to eligible households and energy users.

PROGRAM DESCRIPTION AND CONTEXT

The purpose of LIHEAP is to assist low-income households, particularly those with the lowest income that pay a high proportion of household income for home energy, in meeting their immediate home energy needs. LIHEAP is a block grant program providing grantees with flexibility to determine how to implement or target their programs. LIHEAP is not an entitlement program.

States, Federally or state-recognized Indian Tribes/Tribal organizations, and Insular Areas receive Federal LIHEAP block grants to provide the following types of LIHEAP assistance at the community level:

  • heating or cooling benefits (i.e., fuel subsidies) to increase the affordability of recipients to heat or cool their homes;
  • energy crisis intervention to assist recipients to cope with weather-related and supply-shortage home energy emergencies, and other household energy-related emergencies; and
  • low-cost residential weatherization and other energy-related home repairs.

Approximately 4.1 million households received heating assistance in FY 2002. This represents about 15 percent of all households with incomes under the maximum Federal LIHEAP income standard (29.9 million households) in FY 2002.

Grantees are required by law to conduct outreach activities designed to assure that eligible households are made aware of LIHEAP assistance. The LIHEAP statute specified that the following two groups of households are especially made aware of LIHEAP assistance.

  • The first group includes households with frail older individuals, individuals with disabilities, or very young children (vulnerable households). These households are vulnerable to serious health risks if their homes are too cold in the winter or too hot in the summer.

    Of the 4.1 million households receiving heating assistance in FY 2002, approximately 1.4 million households had at least one member 60 years or older; approximately 1 million of these households had at least one child 5 years or under. Some of these households contained both an elderly person and a young child. Although available, state data on households with disabled members are not comparable as each state can use its own definition of "disabled."
  • The second group includes households with the lowest incomes and highest home energy costs (high-energy burden households). These households can face serious safety risks if their homes are too cold in the winter or too hot in the summer.

    We do not know the number of high-energy burden households that comprise those households receiving heating assistance. We do know that an estimated 10.4 million income-eligible households had home energy burdens of five percent or more and 4.3 million households had home energy burdens of ten percent or more in FY 2001. The average home energy burden for non low income households was close to one percent in FY 2001.

The extent to which the two priority groups of households receive LIHEAP assistance serves as a proxy for the following health and safety outcomes:

  • Health Outcome: The program targets LIHEAP assistance to vulnerable households to protect those low-income households that are vulnerable to serious health risks if their homes are too cold in the winter or too hot in the summer. Such risks can include life threatening illness or death from hypothermia or hyperthermia and increased susceptibility to other health conditions, including strokes and heart attacks.
  • Safety Outcome: The program targets LIHEAP assistance to protect those low-income, high-energy burden households that face serious safety risks if homes are too cold in the winter or too hot in the summer. Such risks can include the use of makeshift heating sources or inoperative/faulty heating or cooling equipment that can cause fires or asphyxiation.

Program Partnerships

In addition to the outreach efforts of LIHEAP grantees, partnerships at the Federal level can play an important role in directing LIHEAP outreach information down to the community level. OCS is has developed partnership with national organizations and Federal programs to support dissemination of LIHEAP outreach information to priority households. Existing partnerships include the following:

  • The National Energy Assistance Directors' Association (NEADA) which has its own LIHEAP outreach campaign.
  • OCS’ Community Services Block Grant Program (CSBG) delivers a range of community-based services to low income individuals through Community Action Agencies. A number of these agencies serve low-income vulnerable households through various Federal funds. The LIHEAP statute requires LIHEAP grantees to conduct outreach activities to assure that eligible households are made aware of any similar energy-related assistance under CSBG.
  • The Department of Energy’s (DOE) Low Income Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) is mandated to target vulnerable households.
  • The Administration on Aging reaches elderly households and the Head Start Bureau reaches households with young children through their community-based programs.

PROGRAM PERFORMANCE ANALYSIS

 

Summary Table
Performance Measures Targets Actual Performance Reference (Relevant strategic goal in the HHS Strategic Plan)
PROGRAM GOAL: Increase the availability of LIHEAP fuel assistance to vulnerable and high-energy burden households whose health and/or safety is endangered by living in a home without sufficient heating or cooling.
7.3a. Increase the targeting index of LIHEAP recipient households having at least one member 60 years or older compared to non-vulnerable LIHEAP recipient households. [O] FY 05:
FY 04: TBD
FY 03: TBD
FY 02: 90:64
FY 05:
FY 04:
FY 03: 90:63 (Baseline)
FY 02: 91:64 (Baseline)
FY 01: 89:58 (Baseline)
HHS 1
7.3b. Increase the targeting index of LIHEAP recipient households having at least one member 5 years or under compared to non-vulnerable LIHEAP recipient households. [O] FY 05: TBD
FY 04: TBD
FY 03: TBD
FY 02: 109:64
FY 05:
FY 04:
FY 03: 120:63 (Baseline)
FY 02: 109:64 (Baseline)
FY 01: 111:58 (Baseline)
COSTS ASSOCIATED WITH MEASURES 7.3a and b
% of Full Costs

FY 2003: 10%
FY 2004: 12%
FY 2005: 12%
OTHER: FY 2003: 90% (Block grants to states and Tribes to provide energy assistance to eligible households and energy users)
FY 2004-2005: 88% (Block grants to states and Tribes to provide energy assistance to eligible households and energy users.):
7.3c. Increase the amount of non-Federal energy assistance resources leveraged through the LIHEAP leveraging incentive program. (Developmental) [E] FY 05: TBD
FY 04: NA
FY 05:
FY 04:
FY 03:
FY 02: $1.322B
FY 01: $1.142B
HHS 1
EFFICIENCY MEASURE
Total Funding

See detailed Budget Linkage Table in Appendix A-12 for line items included in funding totals.

FY 05: $2000.5
FY 04: $1888.8
FY 03: $1788.3
FY 02: $2000.0
FY 01: $1855.7
FY 00: $1844.4
FY 99: $1275.3
   
*Targeting index values have been recalibrated to ensure comparable population weights across years, to increase the accuracy in non-vulnerability calculations, and to decrease under-reporting of LIHEAP recipiency on the Bureau of the Census’ Annual Demographic File of the Current Population Survey.


OCS developed the LIHEAP recipiency targeting index to measure LIHEAP targeting performance. The index allows one to determine whether the program is serving eligible households with the highest energy costs or needs at a higher rate than other eligible households. The recipiency targeting index for a specific group of households is computed by comparing the percent of an eligible target group that received LIHEAP benefits to the percent of all eligible households that received LIHEAP benefits. For example, if 25 percent of eligible elderly households are served, but only 20 percent of all eligible households are served, the recipiency targeting index for elderly households is 125 (100 times 25 divided by 20). This would indicate that elderly households are served at a 25 percent higher rate than all eligible households. Determining if there are parts of the country where the targeting index of non-vulnerable households is greater than the targeting index of vulnerable households has particular relevance to the targeting project. OCS will examine whether the difference between a higher targeting index of vulnerable households and a lower non-vulnerable household index was increasing over time as the result of Federal LIHEAP outreach targeting.

Summary of Program Performance

The U.S. Administration for Children and Families’ Office of Community Services (OCS) developed a LIHEAP a national LIHEAP education campaign to improve LIHEAP program performance. OCS joined with the Administration on Aging (AoA) to launch the national campaign in November 2003. The purpose of the campaign is to increase the awareness of the availability of energy assistance to low-income elderly persons. OCS decided not to include young children as part of the campaign because baseline data indicate that overall LIHEAP is serving households with young children at a high incident rate (see above Summary Table).

As part of the project, ACF developed in the fall 2003 a generic LIHEAP brochure that includes information about the need for eligible vulnerable and high energy-burden households to receive energy assistance. OCS distributed 121,000 copies of the brochure in November 2003 through AoA. A limited number of copies were distributed through AoA’s national network. A larger number of copies were distributed to AoA’s network of states that baseline data indicated have been underserving eligible elderly households.

OCS originally had planned to initiate the education campaign prior to the winter of 2002-03. As the result of the delay, OCS now has baseline data for FY 2001 – FY 2003.

Data Quality: The recipiency targeting index (hereafter referred to as the "targeting index") relies on the use of national household survey data from the Bureau of the Census' Annual Demographic File of the Current Population Survey (CPS). These data present the following problems:

  • The reliability of household survey data is subject to sampling and non-sampling errors. Consequently, differences in data from one year to the next, between groups of households, and sections of the country need to be tested for statistical significance.
  • Household survey data on public assistance programs undercount the number of assisted households when compared to state-reported data. Likewise, the number of LIHEAP recipient households is undercounted when compared to aggregate data from the program's LIHEAP Household Report. The undercount may bias the CPS weighted estimates of the percentage of vulnerable households that received LIHEAP heating assistance. To check for bias, the CPS percentages from the Annual Demographic File will be compared against data on vulnerable households from the LIHEAP Household Report. The data comparisons may result in adjustments to the CPS data.
  • Verification of state-reported data on LIHEAP-recipient households is difficult. There are no Federal quality control or audit requirements for data reported in the states' LIHEAP Household Report.

Data Availability: OCS has been collecting data from the March CPS on vulnerable households and the receipt of energy assistance. Data are generally available 6-7 months after the survey is conducted.

Measure by Measure Presentation of Performance

The effect of the LIHEAP educational campaign will be examined for vulnerable households using the targeting indexes calculated from the Annual Demographic File of the 2004 CPS. The results, computed for various parts of the country, will be used to adjust the dissemination of the LIHEAP brochures, as indicated by the targeting indexes. OCS will use the targeting index to determine in which Census divisions vulnerable households are under-served. This data will assist OCS in directing or targeting the dissemination of the LIHEAP brochures to various parts of the country.

The reliability of the targeting indexes needs to be assessed before this information can be used to manage the program. The analysis, to be completed in spring 2004, will examine the variability in the targeting indexes for FY 2001 - 2003.

State LIHEAP grantees report annually on the number of LIHEAP assisted households with at least one member who is elderly, disabled, or 5 years of age or younger. (A recipiency targeting index can be calculated for households having a disabled member. However the usefulness of the index is limited by the fact that states define disability differently.) Table 8.3-2 shows the national percent of assisted households nationally for FY 1999-2002 that included elderly members or young children. The variability in this data from year to year will need to be examined as part of the validation study.

 

Table 7.3. Percent of LIHEAP heating assisted households containing at least one elderly member or young child, as reported by states, fiscal years 1999-2002
Type of vulnerable household member FY 99 FY 00 FY 01 FY 02
Elderly* 33% 35% 32% 33%
Young children** 33% 25% 22% 23%
*An elderly member is a person who is 60 years or older. (back)
**A young child is a person who is under six years of age. Data on households with a young child were not as reliable for FY 1999 due to reporting problems, and should be used with caution. (back)

 

PROGRAM GOAL - HEALTH AND SAFETY: Increase the availability of LIHEAP fuel assistance to vulnerable and high-energy burden households whose health and safety is endangered by living in a home without sufficient heating and cooling.

Given the legal mandate for LIHEAP targeting, the targeting index is a meaningful and valid measure in that it allows one to determine whether the program is serving each of the two priority groups at a greater rate than other eligible households.

 

7.3a.

Increase the targeting index of LIHEAP recipient households having at least one member 60 years or older compared to non-vulnerable LIHEAP recipient households.

 
7.3b. Increase the targeting index of LIHEAP recipient households having at least one member 5 years or younger compared to non-vulnerable LIHEAP recipient households.
Data Source: Bureau of Census’ March Current Population Survey

OCS will use data from the 2001 RECS to evaluate the extent to which LIHEAP assistance is being targeted to high energy burden households, using actual home energy costs and LIHEAP benefit amounts. In addition, the evaluation will allow OCS to examine the overlap between vulnerable households and high-energy burden households. The degree of overlap could affect the comparison of targeting indexes for vulnerable households and non-vulnerable households if a large number of high energy burden households are being counted as non-vulnerable households.

Developmental Measure

 

7.3c.

Increase the amount of non-Federal energy assistance resources leveraged through the LIHEAP leveraging incentive program.
Data Source: Administrative Data

LIHEAP leveraging incentive funds reward grantees that add private or non-Federal public resources to provide home energy benefits to low income households beyond what could be provided with Federal resources. Under the statute, grantees desiring leveraging incentive funds must submit a report to HHS each fiscal year that quantifies the amount of leveraging accomplished by the grantee the prior fiscal year, less any costs incurred by the grantee to leverage such resources and any costs imposed on federally eligible households. Leveraging incentive funds are awarded for activities that took place in the prior fiscal year (e.g., leveraging activities that occurred in FY 2003 would be the basis for making leveraging incentive grant awards in FY 2004). This efficiency measure will be further refined in our discussions with OMB.