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HHS makes available $670mm to help low-income families pay heating bills

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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius today announced the availability of more than $670 million to states to help low income families with their heating bills this winter. These funds represent additional grants to states, tribes and territories under the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).

“Low-income families need and deserve help with critical necessities such as home heating in the winter,” said Secretary Sebelius. “As the weather gets colder in much of the country, these funds will help reduce the burden of high energy costs for families in need.”

LIHEAP helps eligible families pay the costs of heating and insulating their homes in the winter, and cooling their homes in the summer. HHS is releasing this additional allocation of LIHEAP funds now to ensure that states have resources available to support their energy assistance programs as the weather turns colder.

The funds released today are in addition to the $2 billion that were made available to states in October after the first continuing resolution was enacted for fiscal year 2011. With this release, a total of $2.7 billion is currently available to states for heating assistance needs in FY 2011, which began October 1, 2010.

“Winter months can be especially difficult for families in cold states seeking to make ends meet,” said David A. Hansell, HHS acting assistant secretary for children and families. “These LIHEAP funds will provide needy families with a critical source of heating assistance so they may stay warm and safe during the coldest months of the year.”

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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