Rep. Sanchez introduces legislation
to promote LIHEAP participation
STATE HOUSE – For many, this weekend’s bitter cold was a stark reminder that home heating costs have soared this past year. But many lower income individuals who are eligible for federal assistance through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) are not taking advantage of the program.
Rep. Enrique Sanchez hopes to change that with new legislation (2023 H-5346) that would create a pilot program to expand LIHEAP participation. The program would be run by the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) in collaboration with the Department of Human Services (DHS) and conduct outreach to families who are eligible, but not currently enrolled, in LIHEAP.
“Everyone knows the cost of living has increased, but not everyone is aware that there are certain programs out there to help low income individuals pay the bills,” Representative Sanchez (D-Dist. 9, Providence) said. “This legislation would create a pilot program for the PUC and DHS to increase LIHEAP enrollment through education.”
LIHEAP provides federally funded assistance to reduce the costs associated with home energy bills, energy crises, weatherization, and minor energy-related home repairs. Rhode Island families who earn less than 60% of the state’s median income levels are eligible. That means that a family of four earning up to $65,460 can qualify for assistance.
But many families, Representative Sanchez says, are not aware of the program.
“I talk to my neighbors all the time, especially folks who might not speak English as their first language, who don’t even know LIHEAP exists,” he said. “This bill will help get federal funds into the pockets of struggling Rhode Islanders.”