None of us can afford climate change, but the costs are even higher for Black and Brown people, cities, rural communities, and low-income families.
PA must allocate permanent state supplemental funding to make LIHEAP available year round.
Summer of 2022 was one of the hottest summers on record in Pennsylvania’s history, and temperatures will only continue to rise. As a result, maintaining access to cooling is a critical public health priority across the commonwealth. However, Pennsylvania’s only statewide utility grant assistance program, the Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), is not available year-round.
Hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians depend on LIHEAP to afford heating costs in the winter, but they have nowhere to turn for help with staying cool during the summer’s extreme heat.
CLS and Esperanza partnered to gather community input on cooling-related needs during the summer. We also solicited feedback about Pennsylvania’s LIHEAP in general. Throughout our survey and community listening sessions, CLS clients and community members called on lawmakers to make LIHEAP available year-round. Read the full report here.
- Between November 2022 and April 2023, over 100 residents in low-income neighborhoods of Philadelphia completed surveys and participated in a community listening session.
- An overwhelming majority of participants said they struggle to afford energy bills in the summertime, and nearly half had risked having their electricity shut-off during the summer.
- Nearly all participants identified a need for year-round availability of LIHEAP as one of the top solutions to this affordability crisis.
- Based on community feedback, we recommend that Pennsylvania allocate permanent state supplemental funding to make LIHEAP a year-round program that provides both heating and cooling assistance, provides heater and cooling system repair/ replacement, and meets the needs of seniors and disabled people who may be just above income in the current structure
- We also recommend that DHS improve language access, outreach, and education to communities with limited English proficiency and streamline enrollment to LIHEAP so all eligible Pennsylvanians can access it.
Read the full report here.