Members of the Massachusetts Congressional Delegation today wrote to the House Transportation, Treasury and HUD Appropriations Subcommittee, urging that an additional $360 million in funding be added to the Public Housing Operating Funds (PHOF) account to help housing authorities address rising heating costs.


            The federal government established the Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) to assist household having trouble heating their homes. However, because the cost of energy in public housing is included in the rental voucher provided to residents, public housing dwellers are not eligible to apply for LIHEAP. The housing authorities must absorb all increases in energy costs. Furthermore, the federal subsidy that is provided to public housing agencies is often not fully funded. For example, the Boston Housing Authority will only receive 89% of its federal subsidy for FY 2006.  


            "Home heating costs are rising steeply, with increases projected to reach between 30 and 40%. Housing authorities simply cannot absorb such an increase without additional assistance. I urge quick approval of this funding to give the nation’s housing authorities some measure of relief from skyrocketing energy costs,” stated Congressman Mike Capuano, a member of the Financial Services Committee’s Subcommittee on Housing and Community Opportunity.


"While the temperature is dropping, the cost of heating oil keeps going up and up,” Rep. McGovern said.  "It is absolutely critical that we ensure that all our citizens - including those in public housing - can stay warm.  I urge my colleagues on the Appropriations Committee to provide the necessary funding before Congress recesses for the year.”


Congressman Stephen F. Lynch, member of the House Subcommittee of Housing and Community Opportunity, said, "It is essential that our already-strapped housing authorities have the resources they need to ensure that our public housing residents have sufficient heat for the cold months ahead.  We’re calling on Congress and the Administration to act quickly to protect the most vulnerable Americans during this difficult time.”