Now my group, which represents this system administrators throughout the nation who run the LIHEAP program, initiatives that 33 million households shall be eligible for LIHEAP this yr. That is 5 million greater than final yr, as a direct results of virus-related layoffs. Many of those households are additionally behind on their hire, mortgage and different payments. We not solely have to assist households pay again their hire, we additionally want to assist them repay their utility payments.
The moratoriums are additionally restricted in scope. They don’t cowl municipal and cooperative electrical and gasoline firms, nor do they defend households who use delivered fuels, comparable to heating oil and propane, as a result of these firms aren’t regulated in the identical method as electrical and gasoline utilities.
LIHEAP wants an extra $10 billion from Congress to assist households repay their rising utility debt in addition to present payments via June 2021, when each climate and pandemic situations are anticipated to enhance. It should additionally assist these households pay their heating oil and propane payments this winter heating season.
The $10 billion in further LIHEAP funding can be one of the best ways to offer focused help to weak People. Think about the choice: Utilities may provide compensation plans, however far too typically households are solely given months to repay their utility debt, leading to month-to-month debt that’s much more unaffordable. Within the meantime, it might sluggish that household’s capability to get well. Offering elevated funding for LIHEAP to assist households scuffling with utility debt will maintain charges down for all ratepayers.
We should not go away low-income households dealing with a large invoice that they nearly actually won’t be able to afford when the moratorium ends.
Adequately funding LIHEAP would finally be low-cost in comparison with the drag on the nation’s financial system that rising utility debt and costs would trigger.
With so many extremely complicated issues dealing with lawmakers to scale back the financial ache of the pandemic, Congress does not must reinvent the wheel to repair the issue of unpaid utility payments. LIHEAP works and this system must be absolutely funded.