Trump cuts threaten the area

By Frank Lewis - [email protected]

Steve Sturgill, executive director of Community Action Organization of Scioto County, says many families in Scioto County will suffer if President Trump doesn’t restore two programs that help residents with their energy bills.

“President Trump’s 2017 budget has eliminated the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and the Home Weatherization Assistance Program (HWAP) operated locally by the CAO of Scioto County,” Sturgill said. “If these budget cuts are approved by Congress, over 10,000 low-income Scioto County residents will lose access to subsidies that keep their heat on and their families in a safe, healthy home environment. These subsidies provided under the Emergency Summer/Winter Crisis programs and the PIPP (Percentage of Income Payment Plan) not only assists our low-income residents but pumps over a million dollars into our area economy therefore, retaining and creating jobs for our local businesses”.

On Wednesday, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) joined a bipartisan group of Senate colleagues in a letter to President Trump, urging his support for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP), which were both eliminated from the president’s budget blueprint released earlier this month. Last year, LIHEAP provided more than $145 million in assistance to Ohio.

“We remain committed to supporting funding for both programs that serve our nation’s most vulnerable citizens and are deeply concerned that the 2018 Budget Blueprint released earlier this month proposes to eliminate this funding,” the letter said. “As you prepare a more detailed budget submission for later this spring, we again urge you to include funding for LIHEAP and WAP. By doing so, we can strengthen these vital programs that provide energy security to our most vulnerable citizens.”

According to a 2011 study from the National Energy Assistance Directors’ Association, 72 percent of LIHEAP households have at least one member with a serious medical condition, 26 percent of LIHEAP households have medical equipment that requires the use of electricity, and 20 percent of LIHEAP households include a veteran.

“The Weatherization Assistance Program provides home weatherization services that reduce monthly utility bills allowing many low-come senior citizens and disabled individuals in our community the ability to spend what little resources they may have to buy food and medicine,” Sturgill said. “These programs are partners in attempting to make a healthier home environment, reduce overall utility costs and assist low-income households in supporting their families. Eliminating these programs in Scioto County would cost our area economy approximately two million dollars.”

Sturgill said the programs at risk of being completely eliminated are programs that help those in the community who are the most vulnerable.

“Our low-income neighbors work hard to overcome their obstacles and break free from poverty,” Sturgill said. “Taking away these services that help make their lives just a little more comfortable seems to me a step in the wrong direction.”

By Frank Lewis

[email protected]

Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.

Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.