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May 13, 2017

Restore LIHEAP for Safe & Healthy Families!

Sat May 13, 2017 at 01:19:23 PM EST

by C. Weiss, DC Environmental Network

DC Council: Keep families safe and healthy by adding $3 million to the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).

DC Environmental Network:

The DC Environmental Network (DCEN) testified yesterday at the DC Council Committee of the Whole Public Hearing on DC Mayor Bowser’s budget. Our two goals:

1. Expressing solidarity with our progressive colleagues!

One reason DCEN showed up was to show solidarity with other progressive organizations and advocates in opposition to tax cuts for million-dollar estates and big businesses. With so many more important needs, like housing, schools, child and health care, and of course, our environmental sustainability agenda to save our city and the planet, we feel strongly that we should not tie our hands with unnecessary tax cuts. And with the District becoming increasingly unaffordable, struggling residents need help today!

2. Opposing cuts to LIHEAP. Supporting adding $3 million to make program whole.

Another reason to show up to testify was to express support for a program administered by our very own Department of Energy and the Environment (DOEE) called the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). DCEN opposes Mayor Bowser’s cuts to the program and recommends the DC Council add $3 million in local dollars, to help ensure the success of next year’s program. At the hearing DCEN stated:

“The DC Environmental Network has always appreciated DOEE’s efforts to help District residents use less energy and generate on-site clean energy. We have always thought the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP, to “provide direct financial assistance and discounts to low-income residents to help offset their energy bills” is a critical enhancement to their work. It has seemed, with little exception, that almost every year, DCEN and others, have had to ask that you make changes to the budget to make sure that District residents who qualify and need help with their energy bills, can look to LIHEAP for some assistance. We were very proud to hear that in a recent year, I believe Fiscal Year 2016, the District did not have to turn away families in need of help. It felt like we had finally committed to making this program work. Today the need for LIHEAP is just as great, maybe even greater, and not being able to pay an energy bill can start a tragic downward spiral that can drastically hurt District families. The DC Environmental strongly supports increasing funding to LIHEAP by $3 million dollars.”

With all the major budget issues before the Council, including funding important housing, paid leave, and school programs, we are hoping the DC Council will not forget the important role LIHEAP plays in the District’s social safety net. 

We know and appreciate that Councilmember Cheh, who chairs the Committee on Transportation and Environment (DOEE), and has DOEE oversight, is working hard to figure how to make LIHEAP whole in 2018.

The DC Environmental Network is doing what we can to support this goal.

Chris Weiss, Executive Director, DC Environmental Network, Global Green USA


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