Low income Iowans can expect less money this winter from a federal program that helps them pay their heating bills. Jerry McKim is director of Iowa’s Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LI-HEAP. Congress has not passed the funding for 2008, but the current proposal is for 36 million dollars. McKim says he would prefer that amount, as opposed to President Bush’s plan.
"If Bush’s budget proposal prevailed, we’d have about 10 million dollars less this year than last," McKim says, "but I’m hopeful that won’t be the case." Just this week, an additional two million dollars in federal money was released to Iowa’s LI-HEAP. McKim says he could’ve put that money to better use this summer.
McKim says, "Normally, I prepurchase about three million dollars worth of propane in the summer to be used in the winter, because we can get a better price on it. I didn’t have those funds this summer." Under the Congressional plan for ’08, Iowans who are eligible for LI-HEAP could receive less than $300 to help them pay heating bills.
McKim says the average benefit paid last year in Iowa was about $317. That was down from $451 in 2006. He expects the average benefit this winter will drop six to seven percent, compared to ’07. Last year, LI-HEAP offered financial assistance to 85,500 Iowans. Low-income households with a disabled family member, or a member over the age of 60, can begin applying for the program on October 1.
Other families or individuals can apply after November 1. As an example, a family of four could qualify for LI-HEAP if their household income is less than $31,000/year.