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MA Releases 2012 Program Overview

May 31, 2013 — The Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), the state LIHEAP office, recently released a report detailing the FY 2012 LIHEAP program and looking ahead to FY 2013.

The report found the state's LIHEAP program had $155.11 million in resources available during FY 2012. This included the federal block grant, supplemental funding from the state legislature, and a federal leveraging incentive award of $1.2 million.

DHCD reports the money received from the state's leveraging initiatives has grown 60 percent over the last five years. The agency attributes this growth to increased funding for non-LIHEAP resources and better reporting of those resources to federal agencies. The report explains how important these non-LIHEAP programs are, especially rate assistance by utilities. The agency estimates that low-income customers receive an average 25 percent discount on their bills through various utility programs.

Other state-specific findings from 2012 include:

  • Approximately 200,300 households received LIHEAP benefits. This represented a 13 percent increase in caseload since 2009 and only about 25 percent of the households in the state that are estimated to be eligible for LIHEAP.
  • The percentage of the heating bill paid by LIHEAP continues to decline due to rising prices.
  • Households applying for LIHEAP for the first time decreased 4.5 percent from FY 2011; however, most households receiving benefits in FY 2011 reapplied.
  • LIHEAP utility customers spent an average of $1,100 to heat their homes during the heating season, while those using heating oil spent $2,800.
  • On average, LIHEAP households received $710 in benefits during FY 2012, compared to $783 during FY 2013.
  • LIHEAP lowered the energy burden for recipients from 13 percent to 9 percent for those receiving deliverable fuels and 5 percent to 3 percent for utility customers.

The report also includes projections for FY 2013. It says the state expects to receive about $126.86 million for its FY 2013 federal grant, which is 18 percent less than FY 2012. DHCD estimates its maximum benefit during FY 2013 will likely only cover about one-third of a household's heating bill.

On a brighter note, the report says incidences of heating emergencies continued to decline in FY 2012 due to early LIHEAP certification, and because DHCD prioritizes households that have no heat or are unable to restore heat. There's been a steady decline in emergencies since 2008.

Heating Assistance by Primary Home Heating Sources
LIHEAP Assisted Households
Heating Oil and Kerosene
Natural Gas
Propane
Electricity
All Other
Percent of Households
31%
53%
2%
9%
5%
Number of Households
61,248
105,403
4,112
18,355
11,185

Source: Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development