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University of Wisconsin–Madison
Poverty-related issues in the news, from the Institute for Research on Poverty


Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program

Federal heating aid program saved, expanded in Trump budget, By David Sharp (AP), March 24, 2018, Spokesman-Review: “A federal heating aid program for low-income residents has survived another attempt by President Donald Trump to kill it. The $1.3 trillion spending bill signed by Trump on Friday includes $3.64 billion for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. The energy assistance funding includes an extra $250 million, the first increase in five years…”

Budget Proposal and Safety Net Programs

  • Trump’s budget hits poor Americans the hardest, By Tracy Jan, Caitlin Dewey and Jeff Stein, February 12, 2018, Washington Post: “President Trump proposed a budget Monday that hits the poorest Americans the hardest, slashing billions of dollars in food stamps, health insurance and federal housing subsidies while pushing legislation to institute broad work requirements for families receiving housing vouchers, expanding on moves by some states to require recipients of Medicaid and food stamps to work…”
  • Trump wants to end states’ power to make food stamps more accessible during recessions, By J.B. Wogan, February 14, 2018, Governing: “The Trump administration, which often stresses the need for states to have more flexibility, wants to give them less when it comes to food stamps, formally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)…”
  • New study lauds food stamps’ anti-poverty impact as Trump weighs alternative, By Steve Goldstein, February 15, 2018, MarketWatch: “As the Trump administration weighs slashing and dramatically reshaping the food-stamp program, a new study finds the program dramatically cuts the poverty rate. The Urban Institute released a study on what’s called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which is better known as food stamps…”
  • Trump’s proposal to end heating assistance called dangerous for rural Minnesotans, seniors, By Maya Rao and Jim Spencer, February 14, 2018, Star Tribune: “In northwestern Minnesota, Corann Fladhammer has relied on $1,400 in federal assistance to heat her home as temperatures plunged in recent months. Without it, she said, it would be difficult for seniors like her to stay in their homes…”

Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program – Pennsylvania

Pa. restores LIHEAP funding and extends availability, By Claudia Vargas, August 30, 2017, Philadelphia Inquirer: “Pennsylvania’s Department of Human Services will restore planned cuts to home-heating assistance for the poor this winter, a relief for thousands of people across the state who rely on the service…”

Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program

Proposed elimination of LIHEAP funding elicits concern, By David Blanchette, June 7, 2017, State Journal-Register: “President Donald Trump’s proposed budget for fiscal 2018 would eliminate federal funding for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), a 40-year-old grant program that helps low-income households pay their utility bills and avoid shutoffs during winter cold or summer heat. If approved by Congress, the move could affect 6.7 million American families, including more than 330,000 in Illinois…”

Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program

Federal home heating assistance program is safe, for now, Associated Press, May 8, 2017, CBS News: “The federal program that helps low-income people heat their homes in the winter and, in some areas, cool them in the summer has been saved from elimination in the just-passed federal budget. While that’s good news for people who used the program in the just-finished heating season, next year’s funding will have to be negotiated by Congress as part of next year’s federal spending…”

LIHEAP and Native Americans

Native American tribes fear end of federal heating help, Associated Press, April 15, 2017, Billings Gazette: “Eva Iyotte was waiting on propane ordered under a federal energy assistance program President Donald Trump has targeted for elimination when she lost power at her home on frozen tribal land in South Dakota.  As the January conditions sent temperatures plummeting inside the house, the 63-year-old, her daughter and two grandsons took blankets to their car, where they waited with the heater running until the electricity was restored…”

Home Energy Assistance Programs

Utility assistance falls short for those in poverty, By Dan Boyce and Jordan Wirfs-Brock, May 15, 2016, Glenwood Springs Post Independent: “Families at low income levels pay more than they can afford for their home utility bills, and energy assistance programs designed to help make up the difference struggle to meet demand. As Lea Anne Shellberg knows, spring can be the most difficult time. Spring is when those power bills from the winter start piling up. A broken back and a recurring battle with skin cancer ended her career as an interior designer. When we first tried setting up an interview with her in mid-March, she was in trouble…”

States and Cuts to SNAP

Cuts to food stamps will only hit Wisconsin, 3 other states, By Mary Clare Jalonick (AP), September 17, 2014, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Cuts to the nation’s food stamp program enacted this year are only affecting Wisconsin and three other states, far from the sweeping overhaul that Republicans had pushed, an Associated Press review has found. As a result, it’s unclear whether the law will realize the estimated $8.6 billion in savings over 10 years that the GOP had advertised…”

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

  • States resist food stamp cuts, By Jake Grovum, March 17, 2014, Stateline: “Using a wrinkle in federal law, at least seven states and the District of Columbia are blocking as much as $1.2 billion in food stamp cuts, preserving federal benefits for millions of people who otherwise would have had them cut by about $90 each month. Of the 14 states and the District of Columbia affected by the cuts, at least seven states (Connecticut, Montana, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont) plus D.C. are moving to block them, according to a Stateline survey. The others — California, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin — are considering doing the same…”
  • Who uses food stamps? Millions of children, By Allison Linn, March 17, 2014, NBC News: “Tens of millions of American children are among the recipients of food stamps, according to a new report that casts light on who benefits from the program that has been the subject of heated political debate. The annual report from the United States Department of Agriculture showed that about 45 percent of food stamp benefits went to children under 18, totaling about 20 million youngsters. Nine percent of recipients were age 60 or older, and nearly 10 percent were disabled adults who were under 60, according to the analysis of food stamp usage for the fiscal year that ended in September 2012…”


New York, Connecticut offset cuts to food stamps by increasing home heating assistance, By Stephen Singer (AP), March 2, 2014, Cleveland Plain Dealer: “Connecticut and New York have found a way around federal budget cuts that played a central role in the massive farm bill passed this month: bump up home heating assistance a few million bucks in return for preserving more than a half-billion dollars in food stamp benefits. The moves by Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo — with the possibility that more governors could follow — cheer social service advocates who say the deep recession and weak economic recovery have pounded low-income workers and the unemployed who rely on heating assistance and food stamps…”

LIHEAP and SNAP – New York

New York to prevent cuts in food stamps for 300,000 families, By Cara Matthews, February 25, 2014, Journal News: “New York will dedicate roughly $6 million in additional federal heating assistance funding to prevent 300,000 households from losing food stamps because of the farm bill that Congress adopted and the president signed, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced today…”

LIHEAP Grants Offered

  • Hundreds seek help to keep the heat on, By Sheldon S. Shafer, January 2, 2013, Courier-Journal: “Nay Jones of Louisville showed up at the Urban Government Center on Barret Avenue Wednesday morning armed with a $300 utility bill from Louisville Gas & Electric Co. that she said she couldn’t pay.’I’m worried about a shutoff. I’ve had (the power) turned off two times before,’ she said, adding that she works four jobs and still having a hard time making ends meet. Getting some help paying the bill would be a big plus, she said. ‘I really appreciate this program.’ Jones was among the hundreds who had come to sign up for assistance from the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, from which eligible people can get up to $400 to prevent a utility shutoff. The program is operated by the Louisville Metro Community Action Partnership, which is under the Department of Community Services and Revitalization…”
  • State offers heating assistance grants, By Sean Mccracken, January 2, 2013, Erie Times-News: “The Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare this week will start offering grants to people facing ‘heating emergencies.’ The department’s Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP, will offer crisis grants beginning today to people who have problems like broken heating equipment, who have a dangerously low supply of fuel or who face the possibility of having their heat shut off because of unpaid utility bills. Crisis grants are the second phase of LIHEAP’s annual program. The DPW has offered cash grants since the start of November to people in danger of having the heat shut off in their homes during the winter…”
  • Federal funding will help heat homes, By Jon Ostendorff, January 1, 2013, Citizen-Times:”Eblen Charities will partner with the Buncombe County Department of Social Services to get more heating assistance to needy people.The nonprofit, for the first time, will tap federal Low Income Energy Assistance Program funds in the partnership.That means an additional 1,500 to 1,700 families will get help.Assistance ranges from a one-time payment of $200 to those heating with electric, gas, wood or coal and $400 for those using fuel oil and kerosene. Low-income households with a person 60 years and older or disabled adults working with the Division of Aging and Adult Services will receive assistance first. That part of the program ends Jan. 31…”


Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program

President Obama’s budget proposal targets home heating bill program, By Larry Bivins, February 20, 2012, Appleton Post-Crescent: “Once again advocates for the poor will have to appeal to Congress for an increase in funding for a program that helped more than 230,000 Wisconsinites last year pay their home heating bills. That’s because President Barack Obama has again proposed cuts to the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program. The president wants to spend $3 billion on the program in fiscal year 2013, which begins Oct. 1. While that represents an increase over the $2.6 billion he requested in his budget plan for the current fiscal year, it is less than the nearly $3.5 billion Congress appropriated and far short of the full authorization amount of $5.1 billion Congress approved in 2009 and in 2010…”

Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program

  • States get $845 million in home heat aid from feds, By Andrew Miga (AP), December 22, 2011, Boston Globe: “States got more than $845 million in federal home heating aid on Thursday, but the latest round of government funding won’t take the chill from the fuel assistance program, which is being cut by about a quarter this winter. New England, with its reliance on costly home heating oil, is expected to be especially hit hard by the spending cut. Several Northeast states already have reduced heating aid benefits this winter…”
  • Home heating help slashed by $1 billion, By Pamela M. Prah, December 22, 2011, “Just in time for the cold weather and holiday season, states have learned that Congress cut $1.2 billion from a program to provide heating and cooling assistance to low-income families. The large spending bill that Congress approved this month for 2012 contained about $3.5 billion for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). Advocates of LIHEAP had hoped Congress would fund the program at its 2010 level of $5.1 billion; it was funded at $4.7 billion for 2011, an amount that several governors urged Congress to maintain for this year. President Obama’s budget proposal would have cut LIHEAP funding by nearly 50 percent to $2.6 billion, so the congressional figure came down somewhere in the middle…”

Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program

Northeast states cut heating aid to poor, By Andrew Miga (AP), December 11, 2011, Boston Globe: “Mary Power is 92 and worried about surviving another frigid New England winter because deep cuts in federal home heating assistance benefits mean she probably can’t afford enough heating oil to stay warm. She lives in a drafty trailer in Boston’s West Roxbury neighborhood and gets by on $11,148 a year in pension and Social Security benefits. Her heating aid help this year will drop from $1,035 to $685. With rising heating oil prices, it probably will cost her more than $3,000 for enough oil to keep warm unless she turns her thermostat down to 60 degrees, as she plans. ‘I will just have to crawl into bed with the covers over me and stay there,’ said Power, a widow who worked as a cashier and waitress until she was 80. ‘I will do what I have to do.’ Thousands of poor people across the Northeast are bracing for a difficult winter with substantially less home heating aid coming from the federal government…”

Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program

  • Budget pressure on help for low income families with heating bills, By Brett Neely, November 30, 2011, Minnesota Public Radio: “A federal program that helps low income families pay their heating bill is coming under intense budget pressure. The Low Income Heating Assistance Program sent Minnesota more than $152 million last year. That money helped 172,000 households, including many seniors, the disabled and the poor, pay their heating bills. The average grant from the LIHEAP program was just over $500 for the winter. But with austerity the new buzzword in Washington, the program’s funding is drying up fast – just as many households prepare for higher heating bills…”
  • A costly winter ahead for home heating oil users, By Les Christie, December 1, 2011, “Bill McLaughlin is bracing himself for a tough winter. He and his wife, Cindy, live in Brewer, Maine and neither of them are working. Bill, who’s 59, is disabled and Cindy lost her job more than a year ago. And now the cold is setting in. During any winter in Maine, paying for the oil that heats their home is a big expense. But this winter, it will be especially taxing. The price of heating the average home with oil is expected to jump 10% this year to an average of $2,535 over the winter heating season (October 1 through March 31), according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). That’s 45% higher than just two years ago, when the average bill was just $1,752…”

Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program – Maine

Federal cuts give Maine a chill as winter approaches, By Abby Goodnough, November 27, 2011, New York Times: “Michele Hodges works six days a week but still cannot afford a Maine winter’s worth of heat for her trailer in Corinth, a tiny town where snowmobiles can outnumber cars. Ms. Hodges and her two teenage daughters qualified for federal heating assistance last year, but their luck might have run out. President Obama has proposed sharply cutting the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, and Maine is at this point expecting less than half of the $55.6 million that it received last winter, even as more people are applying. The average state benefit last year was about $800 for the season; now it may be closer to $300. Eligibility requirements have tightened too, and with oil prices climbing – the average in Maine was $3.66 a gallon last week, up from $2.87 a year ago – many here are anticipating days or weeks of forgoing heat…”

Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program – Maine

Maine told heat aid being slashed, By Glenn Adams (AP), November 2, 2011, Lewiston Sun Journal: “As Andy Tasker watches his work hours and pay go down, his need for heating assistance goes up. The Auburn resident and thousands like him in Maine are facing drastic cuts in Low Income Home Energy Assistance, as the price of heating oil rises far above last year’s level. ‘This is a necessity to me,’ Tasker said Monday, just days after federal government told the Maine State Housing Authority that it should expect to receive $23 million for the program, down from $55.6 million last year – a 60 percent drop. Maine Housing officials, and their counterparts around the Northeast, are hoping one of two bills in Congress will bolster heating assistance, but the outlook nonetheless is not good that the final amount will help people like Tasker…”

Weatherization Program – Indiana

Weatherization goal passed: 20,185 homes got improvements with stimulus funds, By Mary Beth Schneider, October 27, 2011, Indianapolis Star: “Indiana has surpassed its goal of weatherizing about 20,000 homes with federal stimulus dollars and hopes to deliver energy-saving improvements to as many as 3,000 others before the program ends in March. Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman, standing outside an Eastside home outfitted with a new furnace, water heater and insulation, said Wednesday that the jump in projections is possible because of cost savings that have left some of the $131.8 million in federal funds available. The success marks a turnaround from the program’s slow start. In November 2009, when the first benchmarks were to be met, the state was to have completed work on 2,202 homes. Instead, only 403 were completed…”

Drug Testing and Assistance Programs

Drug tests for welfare recipients raise debate, By Jennifer Brooks, October 21, 2011, The Tennessean: “As the economy drives more and more people to seek public assistance, an increasing number of states are debating whether that aid should go only to applicants who can pass a drug test. This year, 36 states have introduced bills to require drug testing for welfare recipients. Tennessee is one of them…”