Wyden, Merkley Announce $5.4 million To Help Oregon Families Pay Utility Bills

Washington, D.C.
– Continuing efforts to help low-income residents pay their utility bills, U.S. Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) announced today that in response to a letter signed by both senators, the Department of Health and Human Services will release more than $5.4 million to Oregon in contingency funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). The funding will directly help low-income households pay their utility bills.

“This funding will literally keep the lights on for thousands of Oregonians struggling right now to pay their utility bills,” Wyden said. “Injecting funds into the LIHEAP program will provide a direct positive effect for Oregon families; helping them stretch their household budgets and freeing up money to cover the cost of other essentials like food and medicine.”

“Countless Oregon families are living paycheck-to-paycheck and struggling to pay their monthly bills,” said Merkley. “The assistance from the LIHEAP program will keep the homes of Oregonians warm this winter and help ease the financial burden of rising utility costs.”

The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program was created in 1981 to help low income residents cover their utility bills. The program helps eligible families pay for heating, cooling and other energy costs as well as home weatherization. In 2008, the program provided funding for more than 8 million households nationwide. Earlier this month, Senators Wyden and Merkley joined 46 other Senate colleagues in a bi-partisan letter urging the administration to release the contingency funding included in the Consolidated Appropriations Act signed by the President in late December. In the letter, the senators argued that releasing the funds now would help thousands of low income households and would serve as an economic multiplier, freeing up money for other essentials such as food and medicine.  The contingency funding is in addition to the basic funding states are already receiving.