Governor Phil Scott, Senator Patrick Leahy, Senator Bernie Sanders, Congressman Welch, and Department for Children and Families announced that Vermont has received an unprecedented amount of Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funding this year.
Thanks to the hard work of Vermont’s congressional delegation, the program received $49 million in LIHEAP funding, augmented by a one-time block grant increase authorized under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). The Department for Children and Families typically receives approximately $20 million each year. LIHEAP benefits are designed to support eligible households with their heating and energy needs.
“These additional funds will allow us to do a number of things to help the vulnerable, including increasing fuel benefits; providing more money for weatherization services, including furnace repair and replacement; increasing the number of gallons or cords of wood you can receive under the crisis fuel program; provide a one-time check of $400 to those who qualify to offset electric heat, benefitting 18,000 households; and more,” said Governor Scott. “This increase is due to Senator Leahy, Senator Sanders and Congressman Welch, who work incredibly hard to protect our most vulnerable each and every day. We’re so grateful for their efforts, and I want to thank them for all they do to help us back home in Vermont.”
“I’ve supported LIHEAP since its beginning 40 years ago for one simple reason: No Vermonter, no American, should have to choose between heating their home and putting food of the table or purchasing an essential medication,” said Senator Leahy. “In my role on the Senate Appropriations Committee, I am proud to have worked to secure increased funding so that Vermont families in need can have nearly 90 percent of their heating bills covered this winter. Now I have something to ask of you. If you think you might be eligible for this assistance, please reach out to your local community action agency and apply. Our work in Washington is only the first step. The last step, the most important one, is when Vermont families sign up for the program and receive the home heating help they need. This assistance could not have come at a more important time with fuel bills projected to rise steeply this winter.”
“We have a moral responsibility to make sure that no one in the state of Vermont goes cold in the winter time, and that’s exactly what we are doing by more than doubling federal LIHEAP funding,” said Senator Sanders. “I’m very proud that this substantial increase means far more Vermonters will receive the benefits they need, and I thank the state of Vermont and our Community Action Agencies for the great work they do helping Vermonters stay warm through the winter.”
“The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) serves as a lifeline for many vulnerable Vermonters, helping to ensure that they don’t have to make the impossible choice between paying their heating and energy bills or putting food on the table,” said Congressman Peter Welch. “The pandemic has only increased the need for more funding to ensure our communities get relief during the challenging winter months of these already trying times. The additional LIHEAP funding through the American Rescue Plan will allow more families to get the help they need. I’ll continue to fight for the highest possible level of funding to make sure that the low-income, elderly and disabled Vermonters who rely on this program are supported in the coming months.”
In 2021-22, Seasonal Fuel Assistance benefits will, on average, increase from $912 to $1,522, and cover 89% of a household’s seasonal fuel bill.
• Households may be eligible for Seasonal Fuel Assistance if their gross household incomes are equal to or less than 185% of the federal poverty level — regardless of the resources they own (e.g., savings accounts, retirement accounts, and property).
• Households may be eligible for Crisis Fuel Assistance if their gross household incomes are equal to or less than 200% of the federal poverty level and they are experiencing a crisis.
To learn more about these benefits, visit https://dcf.vermont.gov/benefits/crisis-fuel.