McHugh Applauds Release of LIHEAP Contingency Funds

Submitted article

Congressman John M. McHugh (NY-Pierrepont Manor) today strongly supported the announcement by the President that the remaining Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) contingency funds for FY 2008 will be released.  A total of $120.7 million will be disbursed as a result of this action, with New York State getting the largest share at $12.1 million.  This brings the total LIHEAP funding for New York State to $359,628,405.

“I applaud the President for releasing the remaining LIHEAP contingency funds.  In July, I joined with other House Members in calling for this action, and I am gratified to learn our calls were heard.  Our nation is facing a predicted record high level for home heating costs over the 2008-09 winter, which is particularly going to impact states like New York.  This will cause a significant hardship for families already struggling with the high cost of gasoline and the associated rises in the cost of consumer goods.  I am committed to working to bring some relief to residents of the 23rd District, as home heating is an absolute necessity,” said Congressman McHugh.  “This contingency fund release will bring aid to those still reeling from energy prices last winter and help those who must pre-buy fuels in an effort to get a head start before next winter.  I am particularly glad that New York State received the largest portion of the contingency funds.”

Congressman McHugh has continued to lead efforts to fund LIHEAP, calling on House leaders to pass additional funding for LIHEAP for the current fiscal year as well as working to ensure that LIHEAP is funded at a higher level for the 2009 fiscal year to avoid the need to pass supplemental funding.  LIHEAP helps eligible families pay for home heating and cooling in the winter and summer months, as some low-income families, disabled individuals, and senior citizens can spend up to 17 percent of their income on home energy costs.  LIHEAP is authorized at $5.1 billion, but in FY 2008, only $2.6 billion was appropriated for the program.  During the 2007-2008 season, over 55,000 households received LIHEAP assistance in the 23rd Congressional District for a total over $32 million in funding.

Congressman McHugh also introduced the Home Energy Affordability Tax Relief (HEATR) Act of 2008.  The HEATR Act would provide up to a $500 tax credit for individuals and families facing more than $1500 in home heating costs during the winter season, with a maximum of one credit per housing unit.  For homeowners and renters with home heating expenses below $1500, the bill would provide one-third of the total cost of heating in a tax credit.  Individual tax filers making under $50,000 would be eligible for the credit as well as joint filers making under $100,000.  Above those income levels, the credit would phase out at $60,000 and $110,000 respectively.  Additionally, the credit could be used for a variety of fuel costs, including electricity, propane, heating oil, kerosene, wood, and wood pellets, among others.

Congressman McHugh’s legislation is currently being considered by the House Ways and Means Committee.

Individuals looking for more information or to apply for LIHEAP should contact the state coordinator by either calling 1-800-342-3009, emailing [email protected], or visiting www.otda.state.ny.us/main/heap.