Detroit, MI (PRWEB) July 31, 2012
The Coalition to Keep Michigan Warm (CTKMW), an umbrella organization of energy service providers, state governmental bodies, nonprofit energy assistance providers, and individual supporters promoting low income household energy issues, today announced its participation in LIHEAP Action Day on July 31st, a nationwide effort to maintain Low Income Home Energy Assistance Programs (LIHEAP). While encouraged by recent Congressional support for LIHEAP funding at $3.4 billion, maintaining annual appropriations at the same level for two straight years, CTKMW expressed the need for continued advocacy as lawmakers’ debate over drastic budget cuts.
CTKMW is urging support for LIHEAP Action Day throughout Michigan and to encourage the state’s Congressional delegation to help restore LIHEAP funding to its previous $5.1 billion level in fiscal years 2009 through 2011. As recent Census Bureau reports show the national poverty rate at 15%, the highest in nearly 50 years, the number of LIHEAP eligible families in Michigan will increase.
“Poverty in Michigan is nearly 17% - two points above the national average,” observed Whitney Skean, co-Chair of Coalition to Keep Michigan Warm. “That means the number of low income families needing energy assistance in our state will continue to increase. While we are thankful that Congress decided to keep LIHEAP funding at current levels, we’re concerned that it may still not be enough as the summer heat gets more intense and Michigan winters promise to be more devastating.”
Recently, House and Senate subcommittees voted to pass $3.47 billion in continued LIHEAP support, the second straight year of such funding and an increase from the previous annual $2 billion appropriation.
LIHEAP funding remains critical as 2011 figures from the U.S. Census Bureau report record poverty levels in the United States. A recent survey of demographers and economists suggests the official poverty rate will rise 16% by 2013. Childhood poverty is at an alarming 22% and rising. These levels are expected to last over the next few years, exacerbated by high unemployment, drained jobless benefits and low wage growth. Observers anticipate heightened reliance on LIHEAP as the economic climate toughens.
More information on the Coalition to Keep Michigan Warm and its efforts can be found at http://www.coalitiontokeepmichiganwarm.com. Information on the need for LIHEAP can be found at the Campaign for Home Energy Assistance website at http://www.liheap.org.