LIHEAP_DCL 2021-07 40th Anniversary

Publication Date: August 11, 2021

Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program

Dear Colleague Letter

DCL#:  LIHEAP-DCL-2021-07

DATE:  August 11, 2021

TO:  LIHEAP Grantees, Subgrantees, and Partners

SUBJECT:  Call for Action: 40th Anniversary of Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) #LIHEAP40

ATTACHMENT(S):  N/A


Dear Colleagues,

Please join the Administration for Children and Families’ (ACF), Office of Community Services (OCS) as we celebrate 40 years of LIHEAP! The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) turns 40 on Friday August 13, 2021, and we ask that you help us celebrate by sharing, re-posting, and liking our celebration materials through social media at: #LIHEAP40

Call for Action

Over the next few days and weeks, OCS will take the following steps to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of LIHEAP:

We will email you each day that something new has been released by us in recognition of the anniversary.  We ask that you widely share the LIHEAP 40th Anniversary communication materials, as they are made available this week, through your website, social media accounts, and partnering offices and also use #LIHEAP40 as a hashtag on all online postings. Below, we have included a brief background on LIHEAP to assist you with crafting your own LIHEAP 40th Anniversary celebration activities.

Program Background

Congress enacted LIHEAP in 1981 as part of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (P.L. 97-35), and it is funded annually through Congressional appropriations. Forty years later, LIHEAP continues to provide life changing assistance to American households. In 2021, we released an additional $4.5 billion in supplemental funding for LIHEAP under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARP) of 2021. The federal funding for LIHEAP in 2021 reached over $8 billion — the highest allocation in the program’s history!

LIHEAP makes a difference in the lives of millions of low-income individuals and families every year, including the elderly, disabled, and young children. Many LIHEAP participants are ethnic minorities and live in disadvantaged urban and rural areas. The assistance LIHEAP provides to these communities reduces the home energy burden of millions of households that are already feeling a disproportionate impact of home energy price fluctuations, extreme weather events, and stagnant economic mobility. LIHEAP bill payment assistance can ensure uninterrupted home energy supply, providing equitable access to heating and cooling services and continuity for families.

The federal LIHEAP statute also requires grantees to intervene on behalf of households that experience a home energy crisis. The most current, annual data shows that approximately 5.3 million households received combined heating assistance and almost  1.19 million households received winter or year-round crisis assistance through LIHEAP. Each year, LIHEAP also works hand-in-hand with other federal agencies, such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) during disaster response and recovery efforts. The health outcomes associated with LIHEAP assistance are yet to be fully studied; however, we know that home energy assistance can ensure optimum indoor temperature, improve air quality, and overall energy efficiency, contributing to better health outcomes, particularly for the elderly, disabled, and young children who are more vulnerable to experiencing negative impacts associated with small changes in indoor temperature. In FY 2019, LIHEAP invested  over $1.74 billion in heating assistance, $326 million in cooling assistance, and $390 million in home weatherization activities. We recognize the invaluable partnerships we have with the Department of Energy, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and FEMA, and how these partnerships support LIHEAP efforts in all of these areas.

There will always be a need for LIHEAP assistance as we have seen during recent extreme weather events. Even in a normal year, millions of Americans are faced with making a tough choice between paying home energy bills or purchasing basic necessities, such as food and medicine. The need for home energy crisis and cooling assistance increased in FY 2020, as compared to FY 2019, and we have witnessed during this pandemic how grantees have responded to the needs of their local communities by implementing program flexibilities, allowable under the LIHEAP block grant rules. We recognize the incredible work LIHEAP grantees and  frontline workers have done to serve our most vulnerable households during this pandemic, and we thank for your continued service. The LIHEAP community remains strong and resilient in ensuring low income households receive the assistance they need.

LIHEAP grantees also work collaboratively with home energy vendors and stakeholder organizations. The partnership between grantees and  these entities has become stronger each day since the program started in 1981, and, at the federal level, we are immensely proud of our partnerships with vendors and stakeholder organizations, such as the National Energy Assistance Directors’ Association (NEADA) and the National Energy and Utility Affordability Coalition (NEAUC).

I strongly believe that LIHEAP funding is vital in helping households pay for their heating and cooling needs, as well as making weather-related improvements to their homes; and preventing families from having service interruptions. For 40 years, LIHEAP  has provided services through tough times, national disasters, and even a pandemic. I am proud of what we have collectively achieved so far through the LIHEAP program, and I am excited about what the next 40 years of LIHEAP will bring.

Please join me in celebrating LIHEAP’s 40th anniversary! If you have questions or need assistance, do not hesitate to contact Lauren Christopher, Director, Division of Energy Assistance at lauren.christopher@acf.hhs.gov or (202) 401-4870 or Akm Rahman, Program Operations Branch Chief at akm.rahman@acf.hhs.gov or (202) 401-5306. OCS LIHEAP contact information can be found here.

Thank you for your attention to these matters. OCS looks forward to continuing to provide high-quality services to OCS grantees.

/s/
Dr. Lanikque Howard
Director
Office of Community Services

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