Trump Budget Could Shut Door on Utility Assistance in Ohio
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio's Winter Crisis Program just wrapped up what may be its final season.
The program provides utility bill assistance to low-income and older Ohioans facing a disconnect notice.
It's part of the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program – one of the many programs on the chopping block under President Donald Trump's budget proposal.
Nationally, LIHEAP would lose $3.4 billion, which Steve Creed, housing director for Community Action Commission of Fayette County, says would be devastating.
"This program would be done,” he stresses. “There is no other funding for this. Utility companies will work with the clients but only to a very small degree. If they get too far behind, they shut them off – that's it. They cannot get a reconnection unless they pay that past due."
LIHEAP programs serve approximately 400,000 Ohioans each year. Creed says without the assistance, many families would be forced to make difficult choices such as paying a utility bill or putting food on the table.
The president's budget defines LIHEAP as a lower impact program that has not demonstrated strong performance outcomes.
Hundreds of programs and agencies would be eliminated under Trump's budget in order to offset a $54 billion boost in military spending.
Creed says that includes Community Services Block Grants that help fund services for poor, rural Ohioans, including job training and senior nutrition.
"Community Action Agencies use CSBG to provide administrative costs to cover other programs that don't have administrative fees,” he points out. “So, if they do away with that, we may as well shut our doors. There will be very little funding left statewide for community action to be able to run."
Weatherization programs that keep homes energy-efficient and safe would also take a hit under the federal budget plan. Creed says not only do these programs help vulnerable Ohioans, they also support jobs.