While LIHEAP was established to help pay home energy costs for low-income households and provide energy efficiency measures, historically grantees have attempted to expand that role by providing services that help clients attain energy self-sufficiency, thereby reducing dependency on LIHEAP. These services, often conducted in coordination with energy vendors or other low-income programs, have included energy-efficiency education and energy case management. The 1990 reauthorization of LIHEAP included two new provisions, Assurance 16, which provides funding to assist grantees in helping clients attain energy self-sufficiency, and The Residential Energy Assistance Challenge Program (REACH).
As Section C of the Tribal Manual outlines, Assurance 16 states that up to 5 percent of funds can be used to provide services that encourage and enable households to reduce their home energy needs and thereby the need for energy assistance, including needs assessments, counseling, and assistance with energy vendors. This section of the statute allows tribes the option to use 5 percent of their funds to help households in areas that are related to reducing energy bills. This could include classes on energy conservation, help with developing and following household budgets, and help with energy vendors.
The Residential Energy Assistance Challenge (REACH) grant, funding for which was taken out of the LIHEAP leveraging incentive program funds (up to 25 percent of the amount authorized for the leveraging program). REACH funds have not been available since FY 2012.
When funds are available, tribes that qualify can use the REACH to: "minimize the health and safety risks that result from high energy burdens on low income Americans, prevent homelessness as a result of inability to pay energy bills, increase the efficiency of energy usage by low income families, and target energy assistance to individuals who are most in need." Additional funds may be made available to REACH programs that: "have energy efficiency education services plans that meet quality standards established by the Secretary in consultation with the Secretary of Energy; and have the potential for being replicable model designs for other programs." Grantees must use these additional funds for the implementation and evaluation of the energy efficiency education services.
Section L of the Tribal Manual provides information about tribal REACH programs. More information can be found in the links below:
- History of Tribal REACH Funding
- REACH Evaluations and Program Descriptions
- FY 2012 Tribal and Territory REACH Grants
- FY 2010 Tribal and Territory REACH Grants, second distribution
- FY 2010 Tribal and Territory REACH Grants, first distribution
- FY 2007 Tribal and Territory REACH Grants
- FY 2006 Tribal and Territory REACH Grants
For information on tribal REACH prior to 2006, please contact the Clearinghouse.
At the 2012 National Energy and Utility Affordable Conference, Sandra Cross with the Tlingit-Haida Regional Housing Authority gave a presentation recapping the tribe's REACH program.