It seems that thousands of Americans might be forced to live in cold homes, as the federal government might not offer them subsidies which could help them stay warm this winter.
The funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program is in question this year, despite the fact that a record number of people have asked for government aid with the heating cost. The program was created to help the elder and the people who do not afford to pay fully for heat in their homes.
President Obama is the one who proposed a reduction of the LIHEAP budget, in order to stabilize the federal spending. Last year, the LIHEAP had a budget of $4.7 billion, whereas this year, the budget has been reduced to $2.57 billion. However, it seems that this might not happen, because a coalition of lawmakers intends to prevent it from happening. Their intention is to create a legislation which will insure that the budget will remain this same at least for this year.
Sens. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), stated on Wednesday that they will make sure that the budget will remain the same this year, and that the unfortunate Americans who cannot pay for their heat bills will be able to remain warm. The program started 30 years ago, and since then the prices for the heating oil have increased with 30 percent. Snowe stated that it is extremely important to make sure that the budget will remain the same, because people lives are at stake.
In 2010, 8.9 million households received help from the LIHEAP, which set a new record. This was a 54 percent increase since the year 2008. It has been estimated that in 2012, 9.4 million households will receive aid from the government. Sanders said that it is impossible for LIHEAP’s budget to be cut especially in these days when more and more people lose their jobs, and the poverty rates are very high.
States in Need
It has been estimated by the AARP, that in New England and in other areas where heating oil is used in order to provide heat for homes, that the cost of oil will be the highest ever. Last year, people had to pay $3,058 in order to heat their homes for the winter, and this year it will cost them $300 more.
Ann McLarty Jackson, one of the coordinators of the AARP report, stated that it is very likely that the oil prices will continue to rise in the following year. She also stated that the homes which use electricity or gas, are easier to heat, because the prices are lower. It seems that the worst situation is in the following states: Mississippi, Washington, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, West Virginia, Colorado, Kansas, New Hampshire, and Wisconsin. In some states, such as Georgia, the funds have already been spent. It has been stated that thousands of families will not receive compensations this year, because the government cannot pay them.