HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on October 22 announced the release of more than $2.6 billion to states to help low-income citizens with their heating bills during October, November and December of this year. These funds are being distributed according to the FY 2010 continuing resolution (CR) passed September 30 to in order to fund government operations until final 2010 appropriations are adopted.
"By releasing this money now, we are helping to provide needed assistance to millions of Americans who otherwise might not be able to afford heat this winter," Secretary Sebelius said. "This program helps to offset seasonal energy costs for low-income families, leaving more of their income to use for other necessities."
According to an announcement from the Division of Energy at HHS, the $2.7 billion represents states’ first quarter requests of FY 2010 funds, up to 75 percent of the requests, based on the FY 2009 block grant level of $4.509 billion. This means that states requesting 75 percent or less of their annual allocations in the first quarter will receive their full request. States requesting over 75 percent in the first quarter (76 percent to 100 percent) will receive 75 percent under the CR limitation.
Tribes and territories will also be limited to 75 percent of their annual allocations. All grantees will receive their first quarter monies once the Division of Energy Assistance has determined their FY 2010 LIHEAP plans complete. Most states and many tribes have complete plans and will receive their funds during the first round of awards.
State allocations at the $4.509 billion level, upon which first quarter grants are being made under the CR, were determined under the same criteria used for FY 2009.
Under the CR, as during FY 2009, states can continue to set their LIHEAP eligibility levels up to the greater of 150 percent of poverty or 75 percent of state median income.