WASHINGTON – With Delawareans facing record cold temperatures this winter, U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.) applauded the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s (HHS) announcement Thursday of $1.5 million in additional funds to support the state’s Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). Senator Coons and 40 colleagues sent a bipartisan letter to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in November urging her to release LIHEAP funds as quickly and at as high a level as possible. Delaware received $11.5 million in November; the additional $1.5 million this month will bring the state total to $13 million for FY14.

“During the coldest winter months, no family should have to choose between heating their home and putting food on the table,” Senator Coons said. “With temperatures at record lows and heating costs elevated this winter, thousands of low-income families and seniors in our communities are struggling to pay their energy bills. LIHEAP provides critical assistance for these vulnerable populations, and this additional funding will ensure it can continue to serve families in need.”

HHS announced a total of $454 million for the program nationally, in addition to the nearly $3 billion the Department released in November. The additional funding was made possible by the omnibus appropriations bill passed by Congress earlier this month.

LIHEAP is the main federal program assisting households across the country, including families with children and seniors, with their home energy needs. LIHEAP funds can be used toward heating in the winter, cooling in the summer, and insulation to make homes more energy efficient and reduce energy costs. Eligibility for the program is based on income, family size, and the availability of resources.

In December, Senator Coons and 38 colleagues sent a letter to President Obama urging the inclusion of robust funding for LIHEAP in the administration’s FY15 budget proposal.