Governor Seeks Help from Maine State Housing Authority and Efficiency Maine Trust to Address LIHEAP Funding Shortage

December 22, 2011

For Immediate Release: Thursday, December 22, 2011
Contact: Adrienne Bennett (207) 287-2531

AUGUSTA – Governor Paul LePage has asked Maine State Housing Authority and Efficiency Maine Trust to develop a contingency plan to address the unmet need should Congress not appropriate sufficient funds for the Low-Income Heating Assistance Program (LIHEAP) this winter season.

Today, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services allotted $6,219,001 to Maine for LIHEAP from funding allocated in the Fiscal Year 2012 Continuing Resolution. This funding brings Maine’s current total to roughly $30 million compared to last year’s $56.5 million. Given the uncertainty in the full year appropriations for the program, Maine has already begun lowering LIHEAP grant amounts.

Meanwhile, Director Kenneth Fletcher of the Governor’s Office of Energy Independence & Security met with directors Dale McCormick and Michael Stoddard of the Maine State Housing Authority and Efficiency Maine Trust, respectively on Wednesday. The meeting focused on identifying the number of people in need of heating assistance and the projected funding gap within LIHEAP. Additionally, the Governor’s Office requested recommendations from Maine State Housing and the Efficiency Maine Trust to address the potential shortfall.

“If funding is limited we must have a plan ready to implement. The temperature is dropping and winter will not wait on Congress to provide more money so it’s our job to act now,” said Governor LePage. “We know there could be a shortage as much as $16 million so I’ve asked MaineHousing and Efficiency Maine to work with us to find solutions. With limited resources we must remain thoughtful of those most vulnerable – those subject to hypothermia. Those are people who are elderly, children under the age of two, or people who are disabled.”

Governor LePage has asked Maine State Housing Authority and Efficiency Maine Trust for a plan by Tuesday, December 27.

Last winter, about 63,500 Maine households, with an average income of $16,300, got LIHEAP benefits averaging $804 over the winter heating season, according to MaineHousing, which oversees the program for the state.

“It is imperative that a contingency plan be finalized in the days ahead so that Maine will be ready to address the needs of the most vulnerable this winter,” added Fletcher.

Governor LePage will also seek guidance regarding the proposal from the Joint Standing Committee on Energy, Utilities and Technology when they convene in January.