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NEUAC Sets New Attendance Record

The National Energy and Utility Affordability Conference set a new record for attendance with 703 people taking part in the three day event.  Attendance for the conference, held in San Diego June 10 – 12, topped the previous record which was set in 2008.

Registration figures for the conference, which is co-presented by the National Fuel Funds Network and the National Low Income Energy Consortium, showed that the 2013 conference drew the largest number of participants in the five year history of the event.

The conference featured workshops, panel discussions, and speakers dealing with the problems of providing affordably home energy for low income households. The NEUAC is the largest gathering of professionals involved in issues relating to providing affordable utilities for low income households.

Two Keynote speakers at the conference provided diverse perspectives on energy assistance. Doug Luffenborough, talked of his personal experience with energy assistance. Luffenborough, author of “From Homeless to Harvard” experienced homelessness and poverty as a child but overcame these hurdles to graduate from Harvard. He told the audience that his family had received energy assistance when he was growing up.

The second speaker was Jeannie Chaffin, director of the Office of Community Services at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the federal agency which oversees the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). Ms. Chaffin gave a personal account of having been a student intern who worked with families in need of assistance with energy bills.

Ms. Chaffin discussed several issues concerning LIHEAP including the recent release of the last available funds for the program for the current fiscal year and the plan to collect more data from the states on the performance of the program.  The Department of Health and Human Services intends to collect more data on the impact of LIHEAP in reducing recipients’ energy burden, in preventing home energy crisis, and restoring home energy, Ms. Chaffin said.

The NEUAC featured more than 48 workshops, panel discussions, and plenary sessions on topics ranging from effective fundraising to improving client services, energy efficiency and   weatherization to policy issues.

While the conferees spent most of their time involved in the workshops and taking advantage of networking opportunities, there were also chances to unwind and make new friends. On the second night, more than 300 conferees attended “NEUAC Night at the Ballpark” to see the San Diego Padres play the Atlanta Braves.

Photographs from the conference can be viewed on the NFFN Facebook page — https://www.facebook.com/pages/National-Fuel-Funds-Network/133167773648?ref=hl.
The 2014 NEUAC is scheduled for June 18-20 in Kansas City, MO.

2014 LIHEAP All Parties Letter

 

The National Fuel Funds Network encourages your organization to support the 2014 All Parties Letter to the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives Appropriations Committees asking for $4.7 billion for the Low-Income Housing Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) to help protect vulnerable households from America’s cold winters and hot summers.

An Open Letter to the
U.S. Senate and House of Representatives Appropriations Committees

To Increase Funding for LIHEAP to At Least $4.7 Billion in FY2014

Dear Senate and House Appropriators:

We are writing to urge you to increase funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) in FY2014. LIHEAP has a vital, life-saving role. If sufficiently funded, it will protect millions of increasingly vulnerable families from America’s cold winters and hot summers. A 2014 appropriation of at least $4.7 billion is necessary if this program is to continue to allow states and their charitable partners to continue to serve the growing need of America’s most vulnerable households.

LIHEAP is an efficient, effective program. It helps your most vulnerable constituents, including the elderly, many of whom are on fixed incomes, the unemployed, families with young children, and the disabled. Notably, fully 20 percent of LIHEAP households (1.78 million) contain veterans, including those recently returned from Iraq and Afghanistan, and families of active duty service members.

To be eligible for LIHEAP assistance, families must have incomes at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty level—less than $35,000 annually for a family of four—or 60 percent of state median income. The majority of LIHEAP recipients fall well below these thresholds and many LIHEAP-eligible households fail to receive any assistance because of insufficient funds.

In FY2009, when LIHEAP was funded at $5.1 billion, as many as 45 million households met LIHEAP’s federal eligibility thresholds. Yet, resources were only sufficient to serve approximately 8 million households. Since then, working Americans’ take home income has fallen and unemployment has increased. The worst economic crisis since the Great Depression has driven unprecedented millions of Americans into desperately precarious financial straits and U.S. Census data confirms 15 percent of our citizens – 46.2 million Americans – are impoverished. Though the economy is improving, the need for a program like LIHEAP persists. Between FY 2009 and FY2012, LIHEAP’s appropriation was cut by a third. Because of these cuts, states have been forced to reduce the number of households served, cut benefits, or both. We believe these reductions are too much.

We respectfully ask you to substantially restore LIHEAP funding in FY2014. While an appropriation of $4.7 billion is not enough to meet the full needs of vulnerable households, the program is much more effective at higher funding levels where LIHEAP truly becomes a national program serving the most vulnerable households in all regions of the country.

We know that Congress has made and will continue to make tough budget decisions – but continuing to cut LIHEAP funding is not the answer. We urge you to restore LIHEAP funding to at least $4.7 billion in FY2014.

 

LIHEAP Supporters Visit Washington to
Urge Congress to Restore Funding for Federal Energy Assistance

 

More than 100 NFFN members and other LIHEAP supporters fanned out over Capitol Hill on LIHEAP Action Day to urge members of Congress to restore funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.

LIHEAP Action Day participants conducted more than 160 meetings with members of Congress or their staffs where they asked for support in increasing LIHEAP funding to at least $4.7 billion for FY 2014.

The meetings were held on the same day that the White House proposed further reductions to LIHEAP funding for FY 2014.  President Obama’s budget proposal called for setting LIHEAP funding at $2.9 billion.

NFFN Board Chair Marsha Belcher called the president’s proposal “disappointing” and pointed out that this is not the time to cut funding for this vital portion of the nation’s social safety net.

Throughout the day, LIHEAP Action Day participants made the rounds of Congressional offices to explain how important energy assistance is to the millions of Americans who are struggling to meet their home energy costs.

The day began at the offices of the American Gas Association, where Action Day participants received legislative updates and went over their schedule of meetings and ended with a reception in the Capitol.

During the reception Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu was honored for her continuing support for LIHEAP. Sen. Landrieu was named the recipient of the NFFN’s 2013 “Extra Mile” Award. This award is presented annually to the member of Congress who has demonstrated the willingness to go the “extra mile” to support LIHEAP.

To view more photos from LIHEAP Action Day, visit the NFFN’s Facebook page.

 

Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu Named NFFN “Extra Mile” Award Winner

Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu, the 2013Extra Mile Award winner, poses with NFFN Board Chair Marsha Belcher

 

The National Fuel Funds Network has named Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu the recipient of the 2013 Extra Mile Award for her support of the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. The Extra Mile Award is presented annually by the NFFN to the member of Congress who demonstrates the willingness to go the “extra mile” to support LIHEAP.

Marsha Belcher, chair of the Board of Directors of the NFFN, said “Since her election to the Senate in 1996, Senator Landrieu has been consistent and unyielding in her defense and support of federal energy assistance. As member of the powerful Senate Appropriations committee, Senator Landrieu has worked tirelessly to ensure that LIHEAP remains a vibrant national initiative, capable of helping the most vulnerable amongst us to heat and cool their homes.”

“We in the National Fuel Funds Network recognize Senator Landrieu’s important work for LIHEAP and the federal Weatherization Program.  LIHEAP in particular is vital to at-risk Americans. It can, and does, save lives,” Belcher said.

In accepting the honor, Sen. Landrieu stressed need for LIHEAP adequate funding for LIHEAP so that the program can provide year round energy assistance.  She said LIHAP plays an important role in keeping people in their homes.  She said energy assistance is especially important during these difficult economic times.

The honor was announced during a LIHEAP Action Day reception in the Capitol. Earlier in the day more than 100 LIHEAP supporters met with members of Congress to urge them to restore funding for LIHEAP.

LIHEAP Action Day Statement

April 10, 2013

By: Marsha Belcher
Board Chair of the National Fuel Funds Network

Today is LIHEAP Action Day. More than 100 members of the National Fuel Funds Network and other supporters of the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program are in Washington meeting with members of Congress to urge them to restore funding for the federal energy assistance program for Fiscal Year 2014.

While these important meetings are going on, we learned that President Obama has proposed reducing funding for LIHEAP to $2.970 billion in his FY 2014 budget. Speaking for the more than 300 members of the NFFN, I can say that we are very disappointed in the president’s decision to reduce funding for this essential program.

With poverty increasing across the nation and millions of people still struggling to recover from the recent economic disaster, reducing funding to this vital program is unthinkable. Over the last three years, funding for LIHEAP as dropped from $5.1 billion in FY 2010 to $3.5 billion for the current fiscal year, leaving millions of households without aid to help with them cope with their home energy costs.

The charitably funded energy assistance programs, which make up a large portion of the NFFN’s membership, cannot fill the gap created by reduced funding for LIHEAP.

Today as we are in Washington meeting with members of Congress, supporters of LIHEAP all across the country are demonstrating their support for this program through messages on Facebook and Twitter.

We understand that today’s actions are only the first step in the fight to maintain LIHEAP as an effective and efficient program. We will continue our vigorous advocacy for LIHEAP and will continue to work to keep funding for this program at a level where it can provide important assistance year round.