Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-27) announced he is an original cosponsor of the Low Income Heating Improvement Act, legislation introduced by Congressman Tom Reed (NY-29) and also cosponsored by Congressmembers Kathy Hochul (NY-26) and Louise Slaughter (NY-28), to ensure that Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) funds are directed first to cold-weather states.

“With increasingly limited resources we need to make sure this heating assistance truly reaches those who need it most,” said Congressman Higgins. “Together we are fighting for this common sense approach to keep Western New York seniors on fixed incomes out of the cold.”

“This is a common-sense return to the program’s original intent,” Reed explained. “Directing heating assistance dollars to cold weather states which need them most is a priority. In cold Western New York winters, heat is not a luxury. It is a necessity.”

The bill does not increase LIHEAP funding but will restore it to its original purpose: funding heat for low-income families and individuals in cold weather states. The formula for allotting funds originally provided greater consideration to low-income households facing cold weather conditions. However, formula changes over the years have shifted the focus toward general energy assistance – diverting funds away from families who struggle to heat their homes during cold winter months.

“Many constituents in my district are experiencing tough economic times and assistance like this will provide much needed heat during our often brutal winters,” said Congresswoman Hochul. “Without increasing federal spending, we will ensure low-income New Yorkers have the heat needed to protect their families.”

Other co-sponsors include Republican Reps. Anne Marie Buerkle, Chris Gibson, Michael Grimm, Richard Hanna, and Peter King and Democrats Jason Altmire, Eliot Engel, Maurice Hinchey, Bill Owens and Paul Tonko.