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LIHEAP AT 2012-3 Request for Applications for the REACH Program FY 2012

Published: January 31, 2012
Audience:
Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
Category:
Guidance, Policies, Procedures, Action Transmittal
Transmittal No.
LIHEAP-AT-2012-3
Date:  January 31, 2012
TO:

LOW INCOME HOME ENERGY ASSISTANCE PROGRAM (LIHEAP) GRANTEES AND OTHER INTERESTED PARTIES

GUIDANCE
INTENDED FOR:

_X__ STATES
_X__ TRIBES/TRIBAL ORGANIZATIONS
_X__ TERRITORIES

SUBJECT: Request for FY 2012 Applications for the Residential Energy Assistance Challenge Program (REACH)

RELATED
REFERENCES:

Low Income Home Energy Assistance Act (LIHEAP), Title XXVI of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1981, Public Law (Pub.L.) 97-35, the Human Services Amendments of 1994 (Pub.L. 103-252); the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (Pub.L. 109-58); and LIHEAP-AT-2010-3 (dated 1/7/10).

DUE DATE:

March 30, 2012 - Grantee applications for REACH awards MUST be received electronically on or before this date.  No late applications will be considered (no exceptions).

PURPOSE:

To inform LIHEAP grantees that applications are being requested under the FY 2012 REACH Program, and to provide a copy of the OMB approved REACH Model Plan format that may be used to apply for REACH funds each year.

BACKGROUND:

The Human Services Amendments of 1994 (Pub.L. 103-252) amended the LIHEAP statute to add Section 2607B, which established the REACH program.  The REACH program is intended to address the following home energy issues:

(1) Minimize health and safety risks that result from high energy burdens on low-income Americans;

(2) Reduce home energy vulnerability and prevent homelessness as a result of inability to pay energy bills;

(3) Increase the efficiency of energy usage by low-income families, helping them achieve energy self-sufficiency; and

(4) Target energy assistance to individuals who are most in need. 

REACH programs are to be designed to address the home energy needs of LIHEAP-eligible households.  Home energy is defined in the LIHEAP statute as “a source of heating or cooling in residential dwellings.”  Increases to the energy efficiency of homes, such as activities that provide low cost weatherization and energy related home repair, are also acceptable REACH activities.  In addition to designing REACH programs that are home energy related, programs should emphasize the health and safety of vulnerable households (i.e., households with elderly members, small children and disabled individuals). 

The public health and safety aspects of LIHEAP were underscored in the Energy Policy Act of 2005, enacted on August 8, 2005 (Pub.L. 109-58).  Section 1804 of Title XVIII of the Energy Policy Act required the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to submit a report to Congress on how LIHEAP could be used more effectively to prevent loss of life from extreme temperatures.  On February 15, 2007, HHS submitted its LIHEAP Report to Congress, Preventing Loss of Life Due to Extreme Indoor Temperatures.  Further reporting may be derived from results identified in REACH evaluations.

The REACH program follows the same financial rules for the obligation and expenditure of REACH funds that are used under the Leveraging Incentive Program (also offered through LIHEAP).  These rules require that REACH funds be obligated within the two-year grant period, meaning that the funds must be committed for a REACH-related purpose within the federal fiscal year the REACH award is made by HHS or within the subsequent fiscal year.  REACH funds must be expended (payment on prior obligations) within a reasonable timeframe after the end of the grant period.  This extension covering the expenditure of REACH funds permits grantees to support the costs involved in producing evaluation reports, which are due six months after the end of the grant period. 

REACH funds are available only to LIHEAP grantees.  States, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico must coordinate REACH efforts with community-based organizations (CBOs) to assure that REACH services are implemented and operated by these entities.  Tribes/Tribal Organizations and Insular Areas (other than Puerto Rico) may administer their programs without sub-contracting or sub-granting to a CBO. 

The LIHEAP statute provides that up to $50 million of the LIHEAP block grant appropriation may be used to support a Leveraging Incentive Program.  The 1994 amendments to the LIHEAP statute provide that a portion of the leveraging funds (up to 25 percent) may be set aside for REACH awards.  We did not issue FY 2011 awards for leveraging and REACH, as LIHEAP funds were not set aside for these purposes.  REACH awards were last issued in FY 2010.          
CONTENT: 

As a follow-up to the congressional report on preventing loss of life, the HHS Office of Community Services (OCS) is focusing REACH grants that promote innovative initiatives that address home energy-related health and safety issues and “home energy vulnerability” (i.e., the risk to personal health and safety that is associated with home energy affordability).  REACH programs must be both home energy-related and focused on health and safety of vulnerable households.

REACH funds are available in FY 2012.  LIHEAP grantees that wish to receive FY 2012 REACH awards must apply by submitting a REACH plan that is innovative and addresses the requirements listed in Section 2607B of the LIHEAP statute and as outlined in this Action Transmittal. 

REACH Requirements

Please review the attached guidance (Attachment 1), which explains the REACH requirements in detail.  The major highlights are:

  • REACH funds are awarded for a two-year grant period.  Funds must be obligated in the year of award and/or the following federal fiscal year.  FY 2012 REACH funds must be fully obligated (commitment for a REACH-related purpose) by September 30, 2013.  REACH funds must be expended (payments on prior obligations) within a reasonable timeframe after the end of the grant period.  [Note:  Availability to draw-down federal funds expires after five federal fiscal years from the year of the award.]  Therefore, once funds are timely obligated, grantees are permitted to expend REACH funds to pay the REACH obligations and to support the cost of the evaluation report, which is due six months after the end of the grant period.  It will not be necessary for REACH grantees to request grant extensions to expend funds that are timely obligated.
  • Only REACH applications that are home energy-related and focus on innovative health and safety practices for vulnerable populations will be considered.  Examples of REACH programs that focus on these needs may include partnerships with health departments, utilities or organizations that serve elderly, disabled and/or households with young children.
  • REACH programs must provide their benefits, services, and activities only to LIHEAP-eligible households.
  • Strong preference will be given to States, Tribes/Tribal Organizations and Insular Areas that have not received REACH grants in the past.
  • Successful FY 2012 REACH grantees must submit their evaluation reports within six months following the end of the two-year obligation period.  If for any reason REACH programs are still operating at the time the evaluation report is due, grantees must submit an interim report and follow-up with the final evaluation report when the program is completed.  Therefore, an evaluation report is due no later than March 30, 2014.  Grantees are ineligible for future REACH funds until the objective evaluation report is received.
  • REACH grantees are not required to contract for an outside evaluator.
  • If approved, States, Tribes/Tribal Organizations and Insular Areas will receive funds for their basic REACH programs, but additional funds may be awarded for applications that include an approved Energy Efficiency Education Services (EEES) plan that contains health and safety components.  An EEES plan is optional and not required as part of the REACH application.  (More details on funding are included in Attachment 1.)

                                                          
REACH Application Instructions

Attached is the REACH Model Plan format (Attachment 2) that you may use in developing your FY 2012 REACH plan.  The REACH application process has been standardized in an OMB approved form similar to the Model Plan for LIHEAP block grant funds.  REACH applicants are not required to use the REACH Model Plan format.  Applicants may submit a REACH plan in any format desired, as long as it includes all of the information required under the LIHEAP statute.
 
As with regular block grant assurances, LIHEAP grantees applying for REACH funds must provide the appropriate signature to the REACH Assurances (Section 2607B(e)(2)(A) through (M) of the LIHEAP statute), and furnish descriptions where required.  See the REACH Model Plan for the certification statement and signature block. 

The assurances printed at the beginning of the REACH Model Plan are from the LIHEAP statute.  Applicants who choose not to use the REACH Model Plan may wish to use these assurance pages.  Please be sure that (1) the Governor or Tribal Chairperson signs the assurances or (2) the person who signs the assurances has written delegated authority specific to signing the REACH assurances (and include a copy of that delegation letter with your REACH plan). 

For FY 2012, OCS will set aside approximately $1.015 million to award grants to approximately two States and four Tribes/Insular Areas under the REACH program.  (Insular Areas that consolidate their LIHEAP funds under another HHS block grant are not eligible for REACH funds.)  If a sufficient number of qualified applications for REACH funds are not received, unused funds will be awarded under the Leveraging Incentive Program.

To be considered for funding, REACH plans must be submitted electronically on or before the March 30, 2012 due date.  The Office of Community Services will not consider applications received after this date, and no exceptions will be granted.  Applicants that experience technical difficulties or who do not have email access, should notify the OCS contact listed below by the due date and arrange an alternate submission method.

The REACH plan and all attachments must be in a Microsoft Office or PDF format.  Please ensure that a PDF attachment with the date and signature of the Governor or Tribal Chairman to the REACH assurances is included with the submission.

Please enter the following in the subject line of your email to our office:  “FY 2012 REACH Plan Submission for [insert Grantee name]”.  In the “Grantee name” field, please spell out your entire legal name, e.g., State of Alabama, Absentee Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma, etc.

Here is an example of a correct email subject line and list of the required attachments:

EMAIL MESSAGE
From:  Doe, John [Grantee]
Sent:  Friday, March 30, 2012 9:00 AM
To:  LIHEAPsubmissions@acf.hhs.gov
Subject:  FY 2012 REACH Plan Submission for [Grantee name]
Attachment:  2012 REACH Plan_grantee name

SUBMISSIONS TO :

LIHEAPsubmissions@acf.hhs.gov

CONTACT: Questions may be directed to Margarita Valladares at margarita.valladares@acf.hhs.gov or 202-205-4711.

ATTACHMENTS: 

(1)  REACH Program Guidance and Policy
(2)  REACH Model Plan

 

______/s/______________________________
Jeannie L. Chaffin
Director
Office of Community Services