Thursday, January 15, 2009

Two Groups say LIHEAP can be Improved

A new report has some recommendations for expanding Pennsylvania's Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. Pennsylvania received 280 million dollars from the federal government for LIHEAP this year, and the Department of Public Welfare says the program is helping more people than ever before. However, Energy Association of Pennsylvania president Mike Love says that is not good enough. His group partnered with the Community Action Association of Pennsylvania to issue the new report. He says two things need to happen if LIHEAP is to be better. A consistent and adequate source of funding needs to be developed, and the program needs to provide energy assistance 12 months a year. Love says if given the choice of only one he would take consistent funding. “Because at least that allows you to plan. If you think about it, we always know that our federal taxes are due April 15th. To get federal dollars for assisting our poor, we never know. It could be the end of March. It could be the middle of April. It could be whenever.” Love suggests supplementing federal aid with a state tax that would specifically fund the program. A DPW spokeswoman says there are no plans to make LIHEAP year-round.

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