June 21, 2013 — The State of Tennessee announced in mid-June that, beginning in October, its Housing Development Agency (THDA) will take over as the LIHEAP grantee, replacing the Department of Human Services (DHS).
The THDA already serves as the Department of Energy Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) grantee, in addition to running other federal housing programs like Section 8 Vouchers and HOME. The transfer will make Tennessee one of more than 30 states that run LIHEAP and WAP through the same state agency. DHS has often transferred a portion of its LIHEAP grant to THDA for weatherization. However, it hadn't done so for the past couple of years because of federal stimulus funds dedicated to WAP.
After the transfer in October, community action agencies will continue to administer LIHEAP locally, as they have done under DHS for a number of years.
"We have a long history in working through local providers," said Ralph M. Perrey, executive director of THDA. "I see a strong connection between LIHEAP and our existing housing assistance programs."
"Transitioning LIHEAP was identified during our Customer Focused Government process, formally known as the Top to Bottom Review, as a potential opportunity to increase efficiency and effectiveness in service to the people of Tennessee," said DHS Commissioner Raquel Hatter. "DHS is excited about this transition to improve customer service through better service alignment."
The transfer impacts the timeline for LIHEAP applicants. Eligible households that haven't received assistance since July 2012 will still be considered through Sept. 30, 2013. However, households that have received assistance since July 2012 will need to wait and re-apply on Oct. 1, 2013. Once the shift to the THDA is completed, the state's LIHEAP program will coincide with the federal fiscal year.
Sources: Tennessee Department of Human Services, LIHEAP Clearinghouse