June 6, 2012 — One of the largest and oldest nonprofit energy assistance providers in the country faces a loss of funding for its second consecutive year.
Over the past 30 years, the Utility Emergency Services Fund (UESF) of Philadelphia has prevented the loss of heat, electricity and water for more than 160,000 low-income families in the city. The organization, through its utility grant program, acts as a last resort for families in crisis.
According to the Philadelphia Daily News, the UESF lost $455,000 in funding from the city's Community Development Block Grant this year — about 30 percent of its budget — and faces the same cut for next year.
The newspaper noted that for every dollar that the UESF spends in grants, the utility companies to whom the debt is owed — including Peco, the Philadelphia Gas Works and the Philadelphia Water Department — provide matching funds. In other words, a $750 UESF grant is actually worth $1,500. With the cut in funding from the city, the program stands to lose another $455,000 in matching funds from utility companies.
"Simply put," the newspaper said, "the city's proposal represents almost a $1 million cut to the program and a missed opportunity to keep the lights, water, and gas on for 1,200 Philadelphia families in desperate need."
Source: Philadelphia Daily News