WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced the release of $3,918,262 in emergency contingency funding to help eligible low-income homeowners and renters meet their home energy needs in New Jersey. These Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) contingency funds will provide states, territories, tribes and the District of Columbia with additional assistance to pay heating and cooling costs. Funds will be allocated to all states based on their regular (old) block grant allocations.
“During these times of economic uncertainty, far too many Americans face difficulties affording the basics, such as utilities” said Sebelius. “The release of these funds will help ease those worries, and assure individuals in New Jersey, particularly those with the lowest incomes that pay a high proportion of household income for home energy, that they will not be left behind during the cold winter months ahead.”
LIHEAP helps eligible families pay for home heating and cooling costs, as well as helping weatherize eligible families’ homes. In recent years, more than eight million low-income households across the country receive assistance under LIHEAP.
As part of this Administration’s effort to maximize federal funds, the department has focused on strengthening the program’s operations and ensuring integrity at every level. Earlier this year, HHS requested strategic plans from each state to outline their tactics for improving efficiency and integrity in LIHEAP programs. Those plans, having all now been received, are being reviewed to make sure states are using effective program management and improper-payment-prevention strategies to ensure these funds are reaching the families who need them most.
The contingency funds released today are in addition to the $4.5 billion in LIHEAP block grant funding and the $490 million in emergency contingency funds received by states earlier this year. Funds released today are the remaining from FY 2010 LIHEAP contingency fund available for this fiscal year.
In total, Congress appropriated $5.1 billion for LIHEAP in Fiscal Year 2010. “We are releasing these funds at a time when many Americans are struggling to find jobs and make ends meet as our economy begins to recover. These funds will help many families and seniors in New Jersey heat their homes in the coming winter,” said David A. Hansell, HHS acting assistant secretary for children and families.
Individuals interested in applying for energy assistance should contact their local/state LIHEAP agency. For more information go to http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ocs/liheap/ or http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ocs/liheap/brochure/brochure.html.
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