With Winter Fast Approaching, Brown Joins Cleveland-Area Senior Citizen To Stand Against Plan To Send Ohio’s Home Heating Assistance Funds To Other States

House Bill Changes Allocation Plan for Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP); Ohio Seniors Could Receive More than $15 Million Less Under House Plan Than Under Senate Plan

Energy Information Administration Projects the Price of Heating Oil Will Be 10 Percent Higher This Winter than Last—the Highest Average Winter Price Ever Predicted

In 2010, Approximately 426,410 Ohio Households Received Assistance through LIHEAP

 CLEVELAND, OH –With winter fast approaching and the price of heating oil projected to be 10 percent higher this winter than last, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today joined a Cleveland-area senior citizen to stand against a proposed plan in the U.S. House of Representatives that would result in Ohio receiving a far smaller portion of home heating assistance funds than it would under a Senate proposal.

“Last year, more than 426,000 Ohio seniors and families received assistance to keep the heat turned on and to make ends meet through the coldest months. But a newly-proposed House plan would send Ohio’s fair share to other states,” Brown said. “With winter on the way and the price of heating oil expected to be higher than ever, now is not the time to pass a plan that would result in warmer-weather states receiving the funds that Ohioans rely on to stay warm in the winter.

“Just last week, the Social Security Administration announced that seniors would get their first cost-of-living adjustment increase in more than two years. For the past two years, seniors have seen many of their most common expenses, like prescription drugs, food, and energy costs—rise, while their monthly Social Security check has remained stagnant. Too many seniors have had to choose between taking their medicine and feeding themselves or heating their homes—and that’s why the LIHEAP program is so important for Ohioans,” Brown added. “The Senate plan ensures that Ohioans get the maximum LIHEAP funds available, and that’s the plan I will fight to send to the President’s desk.”

Bills in the House and Senate both contain similar funding levels for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), but the proposed House plan makes allocation changes that would result in Ohio and other colder-weather states, like Michigan and Wisconsin, receiving a smaller percentage of the funds. The Senate plan has already cleared the Appropriations Committee and relies on a formula that has been used since 1980 to emphasize the needs of colder-weather states like Ohio. Under the Senate proposal, Ohio would receive nearly $173 million in LIHEAP funds, but under the House plan, the state would receive approximately $157.4 million—meaning Ohio seniors would lose out on more than $15 million in home heating assistance funds.

Brown was joined by John Randolph, a senior citizen from Columbia Station and a LIHEAP recipient, as well as Liz Hernandez, Director of Property Services at the Cleveland Housing Network. Brown, Randolph, and Hernandez, speaking from the front porch of Ann Polomsky, a 92-year-old Cleveland resident who has also received assistance through LIHEAP, called for the passage of the Senate version of the bill, which would ensure that Ohio receives the maximum share of available LIHEAP funds.

Further cuts to the LIHEAP program could result in Ohio seniors receiving smaller award amounts to help heat their homes this winter or denied assistance altogether. In 2010, approximately 426,410 Ohio households received home heating assistance through LIHEAP.

According to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the federal agency that administers LIHEAP, the mission of the program is to assist low-income households—particularly those with the lowest incomes that pay a high proportion of household income for home energy—in meeting their immediate home energy needs. The Cleveland Housing Network is the largest energy conservation provider in Northeast Ohio, completing 7,000 in-home audits and safety inspections, free of charge, to low-income families.

Last week, Brown led 33 senators in a bipartisan letter to the Obama Administration urging the speedy deployment of Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) resources. A copy of that letter can be seen here.


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