Business / Economy

Local Impact of Elimination of Federally Funded Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program

Hollister, CA – August 7, 2017 – As the President and Congress wrangle over budget priorities, the elimination of a local service threatens many low income households.

The President proposes to eliminate the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program and the Weatherization Assistance Program – under the discretionary spending proposal for Fiscal Year 2018 released March 16.

Nationally, under the budget proposal, the Department of Energy would cut $121 million with the elimination of the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) while the Department of Health and Human Services would lose $3.4 billion in funding with the elimination of the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). The proposal states, “Compared to other income support programs that serve similar populations, LIHEAP is a lower-impact program and is unable to demonstrate strong performance outcomes.”

Locally Community Services and Workforce Development (CSWD), the service provider for LIHEAP for San Benito County, offers a different perspective of the programs’ impact. In 2016 alone, CSWD assisted 764 low-income households with regular bills with over $262,165 in payment assistance benefits and made 315 payment assistance pledges to Pacific Gas and Electric for households with shut-off notices to prevent disconnection or to restore gas and electric services. Additionally, CSWD has referred low-income families to the Central Coast Energy Assistance Program for weatherization services.

“LIHEAP serves a vital, life-saving role for families throughout the country, especially for families who are struggling to make ends meet, the elderly, the sick and disabled. Rising energy and housing costs place enormous strain on households across California who struggle to pay their utility bills. In 2015, utility service was terminated for 817,000 California households that could not afford their utility bills. This represents over 2 million people, mostly children and we anticipate that these numbers will rise as energy costs continue to go up” stated The Utility Reform Network (TURN) Executive Director, Mark Toney.

In 2016, 764 low-income households were served in San Benito County with $262,165 in total payment assistance benefits.

Of the households served;

242 were seniors, of those, 156 were 55-69 years old and 86 were over the age of 70.

171 Families with children under age 5 received assistance.

167 were Single moms and 15 were single dads.

“It would be a shame if the LIHEAP Program were to be eliminated leaving hundreds of families, representing thousands of family members, without this service and facing the risk of having their electricity shut off,” stated Enrique Arreola, CSWD Deputy Director.

LIHEAP program is very good in helping low income clients with winter utilities. I appreciate this program. The high cost of utilities hurts low-income clients.” – Maria

“I have been struggling to stay above water, I am hoping with the assistance I can become current with my PG&E. Thank you for your time and assistance program.” – Lily

“I have used your services for the last 10 yrs. Everyone is so helpful and informed me of services that I could apply for that I didn’t even know existed. Thank you so much for the help!” – Michael

“Without assistance from LIHEAP it would be very difficult to pay my PG&E bill.” – Susan

Under the LIHEAP program, a one-time per year payment assistance benefit of up to $318 on home energy accounts is provided.

CSWD is accepting applications for households. You do not need to have a 48-hour or 15-day shut off notice. We can also assist those who have their utilities included in their rent. An application may be obtained at 1111 San Felipe Road, Suite 107, Hollister, CA, 95023 or by calling (831) 637-9293.

Community Services Workforce Development