LOWELL, MA – Today, Assistant Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Katherine Clark (MA-05) joined Representatives Lori Trahan (MA-03), Richard E. Neal (MA-01), James P. McGovern (MA-02), Jake Auchincloss (MA-04), Seth Moulton (MA-06), Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), Stephen F. Lynch (MA-08), and William R. Keating (MA-09) and Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Edward J. Markey (D-MA) in requesting that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services expedite the release of Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funding for this winter.
“Over the last several months, world energy markets have experienced massive fluctuations on account of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine. Unfortunately, these reverberations will soon be acutely felt at home throughout our communities as winter sets in. This is compounded by the COVID pandemic, which has stretched global supply chains thin and increased the cost of energy,” the lawmakers wrote. “Together, these forces will likely increase power bills in Massachusetts by over 60 percent compared to last winter as prices continue to surge for natural gas, the energy source responsible for over half of New England’s electricity.”
Last week, the House and Senate approved, and President Joe Biden signed into law, a short-term government funding package containing a $1 billion increase for the LIHEAP program. Of that funding, Massachusetts is set to receive an estimated $36,911,000. This increased funding comes as less than one in every five eligible families in Massachusetts accessed home heating assistance through LIHEAP last winter, and nearly 800,000 families across the Commonwealth were over 90 days behind on their electric and gas bills.
“Though LIHEAP funds in recent years have been released in early November, we know from past data that it is possible for funds to be released as soon as mid-October. The historic investment in LIHEAP in FY2022 and the additional $1 billion included in the continuing resolution for federal government funding highlights the importance of this program. We urge the Division of Energy Assistance to release these funds as soon as possible so that they may have the maximum impact possible,” the lawmakers requested.
A digital copy of the letter sent today can be accessed HERE.