The Campaign for Home Energy Assistance estimates that, on average, HEAP benefits nationwide cover only 8 percent of household energy bills. The problem is particularly acute locally, with Otsego County’s poverty rate ranking among the highest in the state at 16.4 percent (according to the 2010 census).
We know that the billions spent on this program each year represent, at least in part, the hard-earned dollars that come out of people’s paychecks when they pay their taxes. And we realize that, if funding for LIHEAP were to increase, that it could mean more dollars out of our pockets.
But when we think about the senior citizens confining themselves to one room of their home for the winter because they cannot afford to heat the whole house, or children shivering in their beds waiting for the next fuel oil delivery to come, we think it might be worth it.