Congresswoman Delauro to visit families who rely on LIHEAP

Rosa DeLauro

DERBY, Conn. (WTNH) — Congresswoman Rosa Delauro met with families who rely on the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP Monday morning in Derby. The Democrat has serious concerns about the Trump administration’s proposed budget.

Recently, President Donald Trump proposed eliminating LIHEAP as part of his 2018 budget plan. The result would be a $3.8 million cut in a program that serves millions of Americans.

“The heating program may have saved my life this year,” said Derby resident Roger Martin, at the roundtable discussion at the headquarters of TEAM, Inc.

DeLauro heard a lot of stories like that during her visit. The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program is a long name for a pretty simple thing. If you don’t make much money, LIHEAP helps you pay your heating bill. It is simple, but it can make a big difference for a working mom like Amanda Diaz.

“My daughter has asthma. My heating bill a month is over $250,” Diaz told the Congresswoman. “If I didn’t have assistance from the energy program, she would probably be in the hospital.”

In 2016, Connecticut received more than $80 million for LIHEAP, which helped nearly 110,000 households across the state, but in the outline of its upcoming budget, the Trump administration wrote that “LIHEAP is a lower-impact program and is unable to demonstrate strong performance outcomes.” DeLauro has a different view, and she quoted from a recent study about the importance of heating assistance.

“Nearly one third of families reported that they went without food,” DeLauro said. “Over 40% sacrificed medical care and a quarter had become sick because their homes were too cold.”

Plus there is the additional cost of what happens when people try to heat their home with space heaters and ovens: An increased risk of burning their homes down. Delauro promised the folks in Derby she would fight against the Trump budget cuts. She says more than 70% of the homes getting help with heating bills have elderly people, kids, or disabled people inside. Chrisann Keeney of Derby is disabled, and is raising a child.

“Everybody that’s on these programs has a purpose,” Keeney said. “You’re talking about human lives. Put those numbers away. Put those folders away. Start thinking about who you’re really affecting. You’re affecting the future.”

One more statistic for you: One out of every five people getting assistance from LIHEAP is a veteran.

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