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Charlotte Amalie
Sunday, August 7, 2022
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Low Income Energy Assistance to Triple

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services plans to triple the amount of money in the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program to the territories this year, according to Delegate Donna M. Christensen.

“I am ecstatic that the hard work of the past several years done through repeated meetings with Secretary (Kathleen) Sebelius, the last of which was last week, has paid off in more funds for all of the territories, including the U.S. Virgin Islands,” Christensen said in a statement Wednesday.

“Initially our requests were denied, but persistence has paid off and more people will be able to receive assistance to lower the costs of energy in their homes,” she said. Christensen said she has requested more LIHEAP assistance in letters to the U.S. secretary of Health and Human Services in the Omnibus legislation in both Houses of Congress and in stand-alone legislation.

Christensen said she has joined efforts with other territorial delegates who have argued that the formula used to calculate LIHEAP funds to the territories has been inadequate since it does not take into account the greater need of island communities.

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According to local authorities, LIHEAP funding to the Virgin Islands topped at roughly $200,000 several years ago but, with federal budget and sequester cuts, has been as low as $129,000. The Government of the Virgin Islands has matched those funds with about $1.5 million per year.

The funding is generally used in the Virgin Islands to assist seniors and persons with disabilities.

“While we do not have the new dollar amount as yet, we are still grateful for the movement and the recognition that the territories, including the U.S. Virgin Islands, need much more funding to help reduce our high energy costs,” Christensen said in her statement.

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The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services plans to triple the amount of money in the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program to the territories this year, according to Delegate Donna M. Christensen.

“I am ecstatic that the hard work of the past several years done through repeated meetings with Secretary (Kathleen) Sebelius, the last of which was last week, has paid off in more funds for all of the territories, including the U.S. Virgin Islands,” Christensen said in a statement Wednesday.

“Initially our requests were denied, but persistence has paid off and more people will be able to receive assistance to lower the costs of energy in their homes,” she said. Christensen said she has requested more LIHEAP assistance in letters to the U.S. secretary of Health and Human Services in the Omnibus legislation in both Houses of Congress and in stand-alone legislation.

Christensen said she has joined efforts with other territorial delegates who have argued that the formula used to calculate LIHEAP funds to the territories has been inadequate since it does not take into account the greater need of island communities.

According to local authorities, LIHEAP funding to the Virgin Islands topped at roughly $200,000 several years ago but, with federal budget and sequester cuts, has been as low as $129,000. The Government of the Virgin Islands has matched those funds with about $1.5 million per year.

The funding is generally used in the Virgin Islands to assist seniors and persons with disabilities.

“While we do not have the new dollar amount as yet, we are still grateful for the movement and the recognition that the territories, including the U.S. Virgin Islands, need much more funding to help reduce our high energy costs,” Christensen said in her statement.