‘Unexpected’ help for heating costs headed to eligible Nebraskans

By: - November 4, 2022 3:25 pm

(Getty Images)

OMAHA — Nebraska will get an “unexpected” boost of nearly $9 million in federal funding for a home energy program that helps financially strapped  households, a state agency spokesperson said Friday.

The Biden administration this week announced that $4.5 billion is being distributed nationally to help Americans with heating costs this winter under the long-established Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, also known as LIHEAP.

Of that, Nebraska was awarded about $39 million. A spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services, Jeff Powell, said that about $30 million was anticipated as the state’s annual LIHEAP allotment — but that his team learned this week of the additional, “unexpected” $9 million.

For low- to moderate-income households that qualify, the program subsidizes home heating costs, unpaid utility bills and energy-related home repairs.

The funding announced this week was a combination of regular appropriations by Congress, $100 million from President Biden’s infrastructure package and additional emergency funding Congress included in the September continuing resolution.

“For more than 40 years, this program has helped low-income families pay their home heating and cooling bills,” said U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra. “As heating costs increase, it’s more important than ever to help families struggling to make ends meet.”

Powell said Nebraska Health and Human Services officials are evaluating and drafting a plan on how best to use the additional funds.

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Cindy Gonzalez
Cindy Gonzalez

Senior Reporter Cindy Gonzalez, an Omaha native, has more than 35 years of experience, largely at the Omaha World-Herald. Her coverage areas have included business and real estate development; regional reporting; immigration, demographics and diverse communities; and City Hall and local politics. She has won awards from organizations including Great Plains Journalism, the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing (SABEW) and the Associated Press. Cindy has been recognized by various nonprofits for community contributions and diversity efforts. She chairs the board that oversees the local university’s student newspaper.