LIHEAP Money Caught In Budget Crisis

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Decatur – The state budget crisis is starting to take a human toll as the cold winds of winter blow into Illinois.  Money for the Low Income Energy Assistance Program, LIHEAP, is running out.

“We are in danger of having people die of hypothermia,” said Dalitso Sulamoyo of the Illinois Association of Community Action Agencies, IACAA.  “We have $40 million of state LIHEAP funds that are sitting in an idle account.”

The state has refused to release the money because of the budget crisis even though it is not actually part of the budget.  The funds are collected by utilities and then given to the state to pass on to LIHEAP agencies.  LIHEAP helps the low income, people with disabilities and senior citizens pay their utility bills.  Without it many won’t be able to pay their power bills.

“These funds do not belong to the state.  They belong to the vulnerable population that need these services,” stated Harold Rice of Chicago.  “Release those funds so that we don’t face that situation where we will have a loss of lives.”

A limited amount of federal money is available.  Most of it is expected to run out by early January.

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