Fiscal Year 2025 (FY2025) Funding Request for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)

The Honorable Tammy Baldwin The Honorable Shelley Moore Capito

Chair Ranking Member

Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human

Human Health Services, Education, Health Services, Education, and Related 

and Related Agencies, Appropriations Agencies, Appropriations

United States Senate United States Senate

 

The Honorable Robert Aderholt The Honorable Rosa DeLauro

Chair Ranking Member

Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human

Human Health Services, Education, Health Services, Education, and Related 

and Related Agencies, Appropriations Agencies, Appropriations

U.S. House of Representatives U.S. House of Representatives  

 

Dear Chair Baldwin, Ranking Member Moore Capito, Chair Aderholt, Ranking Member Rosa DeLauro,

As leaders within and allies of the environmental justice movement, we write to emphasize the paramount need for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) to receive full funding as you develop the FY2025 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill. We urge you and your colleagues to appropriate funding that meets the $5.1 billion maximum authorized amount for LIHEAP to help protect communities of color and low income constituents from rising energy costs and extreme weather emergencies. 

The bipartisan Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) has served as a lifeline for low income communities and People of Color who face disproportionate energy burdens and struggle to afford their energy bills. It is the main federal program that ensures income-constrained communities stay warm in the winter and have access to life saving cooling in the heat of summer. Energy bills can make up around 30 percent of a low-income household’s monthly income during these peak times.  For example, during the 2023 heat wave that caused Phoenix, Arizona to reach daily temperatures of at least 110 degrees over a record-breaking 31 consecutive days, LIHEAP assistance was especially vital. LIHEAP also provides funding for weatherization and emergency needs, helping protect communities from the elements and extreme weather events. Moreover, LIHEAP assists households in transitioning from health harming fossil fuel to electric appliances that cut energy consumption and utility bills, improve quality of life, and reduce the need for regular crisis benefits. Yet, LIHEAP is not an entitlement program, and currently, only about 17 percent of eligible households are served largely due to constrained funding.  

Utilities are a fundamental human right. However, low income households and People of Color  must often decide whether to spend their limited resources on food, medication, or energy bills. Environmental justice communities should not be forced to forgo other essentials to keep their power on, especially as economic inequality continues to grow, energy prices soar, and the undue effects of climate change adversely impact our communities. At the same time, infrastructure across the country is not equipped for a changing climate – the 2021 Texas coldsnap caused a state-wide blackout, 100 car pileup, and burst water pipes; Southern California issued its first ever tropical storm warning leading to life-threatening flash floods, power outages, and mudslides; and the Maui wildfires were the deadliest within the US in over 100 years. Communities of color are disproportionately located in flood and wildfire prone areas, and are the least apt to recover from extreme weather events due to limited access to disaster assistance. Therefore, LIHEAP crisis assistance is crucial for environmental justice communities. 

The Biden Harris Administration has highlighted the importance of LIHEAP in response to these extreme weather events. In FY23, $2 billion in emergency funding was allocated to the program, totalling its annual funding to $6.1 billion. This allowed an additional 1.4 million households to benefit from the program. Significant funding is required to ensure all eligible households, especially environmental justice communities that face disproportionately high energy burdens and are unduly impacted by climate change, receive LIHEAP’s life saving assistance. 

The chronic and growing need for increased LIHEAP funding is a public health crisis. High energy burdens can lead to illnesses and conditions, including complications with cardiovascular disease, heat exhaustion, and respiratory problems such as asthma. Environmental justice communities often live in substandard housing with poor insulation and inefficient appliances. These factors increase indoor air pollution, resulting in poorer health outcomes, especially for the elderly, families with young children, and communities of color. The financial stress and fear of possibly losing electricity entirely can exacerbate mental health problems. At the same time, landlords may regard utility shut-offs as grounds for eviction, increasing the risk of homelessness.  

 In the face of extreme heat, low income and communities of color are among the most vulnerable in large part because of the legacy of redlining and the discriminatory lack of investments in such neighborhoods. In cities like New York, high population density, less tree cover and parks, and more heat-absorbing surfaces lend to the urban heat island effect, increasing local temperatures up to about 9°F hotter than nearby areas. This is alarming since heat is the number one weather-related cause of death in the U.S., claiming approximately 1,300 lives a year –  exceeding floods, tornadoes, and hurricanes combined. High temperatures also exacerbate heart, lung, and kidney disease, contribute to preterm births and other poor birth outcomes, and increase the likelihood of emergency room visits for schizophrenia, suicidality, and other serious mental health conditions. As extreme heat events rise and the need for heating in the winter remains, LIHEAP must be fully funded and accompanied with the highest level of supplemental funding so all eligible families are protected throughout the entire year.

For too long, the program has been underfunded, serving only one out of every six eligible households.  Additional funding is vital to meet the substantial and increasing need for LIHEAP. As you finalize your FY2025 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Appropriations bill, we request that you authorize full funding for LIHEAP to close the widening health gap driven by the rising cost of energy and climate change. This $5.1 billion allocation, paired with the highest level of supplemental funding, will have far-reaching implications for safeguarding the health and well-being of low-wealth communities, communities of color, and Tribal communities across the nation. 

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely, 

Environmental Justice Organizations: 

WE ACT for Environmental Justice 

Alaska Community Action on Toxics

CleanAirNow

Coalition of Community Organizations

Duwamish River Community Coalition

Fairmount Indigo CDC Collaborative 

Flint Rising 

GreenLatinos

Green Door Initiative

Jesus People Against Pollution 

NC Climate Justice Collective 

People’s Action 

PODER

South Bronx Unite 

Sowing Justice

Tallahassee Food Network

Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services 

The Cornerstone Collection 2020 & Damê Consultants Global

West Atlanta Watershed Alliance 

West End Revitalization Association (WERA) 

Young, Gifted & Green 

 

Allied Organizations:

American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy 

Appliance Standards Awareness Project (ASAP) 

Berkshire Environmental Action Team (BEAT)

Brookhaven Residents’ Climate Change Committee

Community In-power & Development Association Inc

Energy Outreach Colorado 

Environmental Defense Fund 

Evergreen Action 

Food & Water Watch 

Fresh Energy 

Greater Boston Physicians for Social Responsibility 

Greater Frenchtown Revitalization Council Tallahassee Food Network 

green|spaces 

Just Solutions 

League of Conservation Voters 

Make Polluters Pay

Memphis APRI

Midwest Building Decarbonization Coalition 

Mothers Out Front Massachusetts 

National Wildlife Federation 

Nuclear Information and Resource Service (“for a nuclear-free, carbon-free world”)

Rewiring America 

Sierra Club 

Slipstream

The Capital Good Fund 

The Cornerstone Collection 2020 & Damê Consultants Global

Unitarian Universalist Mass Action 

Vote Solar

ZeroCarbonMA

350 Mass

 

CC: Senate Majority Leader Schumer, House Minority Leader Jeffries, Chair Granger, Ranking Member DeLauro, Chair Murray, Ranking Member Collins  

Sign-on Letter FY2025 HHS, LIHEAP Funding Request

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