LIHEAP Formula: Legislative History and Current Law [January 20, 2012]   [open pdf - 446KB]

From the Document: "The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) provides funds to states, the District of Columbia, U.S. territories and commonwealths, and Indian tribal organizations (collectively referred to as grantees) primarily to help low-income households pay home energy expenses. The LIHEAP statute provides for two types of funding: regular funds (sometimes referred to as block grant funds) and emergency contingency funds. Regular funds are allocated to grantees based on a formula, while contingency funds may be released to one or more grantees at the discretion of the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services [HHS] based on emergency need. Regular LIHEAP funds are allocated to the states according to a formula that has a long and complicated history. […] When Congress reauthorized LIHEAP in 1984 as part of the Human Services Reauthorization Act (P.L. [Public Law] 98-558), it changed the program's formula by requiring the use of more recent population and energy data and requiring that HHS consider both heating and cooling costs of low-income households (a change from the focus on the heating needs of all households). The effect of these changes meant that, in general, funds would be shifted from cold-weather states to warm-weather states. To prevent a dramatic shift of funds, Congress added two 'hold-harmless' provisions to the formula. The result of these provisions is a current law, three-tiered formula (sometimes referred to as the 'new' formula), the application of which depends on the amount of regular funds that Congress appropriates."

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CRS Report for Congress, RL33275
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