Local services aimed at helping low-income residents and families are potentially on the chopping block under President Donald Trump’s proposed budget cuts.
Community Action agencies stand to lose about $3.4 billion across the nation, which would effectively destroy locally implemented programs, namely the Low Income Home Energy Assistance and Weatherization Program (LIHEAP), which is offered here by the Community Action Commission (CAC) of Santa Barbara County.
In 2016, this life- and energy-saving program, though the Community Action Commission, weatherized 345 houses and assisted 1,404 low-income households with over $425,240 in payment assistance. The program can give a one-time payment up to $300 for a non-emergency payment on a wood, gas, electric, oil, or propane heating bill, It also offers a fast-track program that can assist in situations when a resident is in danger of having utilities shut off or have been shut off, paying up to $1,000 toward outstanding bills. Over the last five years the Commission’s Energy Services has provided energy efficiency and safety measures to over 2,225 homes.
“LIHEAP ensures homes are warm and safe by provided lifesaving services to families who are struggling to make ends meet: the elderly, the sick and disabled,” said Kemba Lawrence, director of the Commission’s Energy Services.
Santa Maria resident Rodolfo Galvan stated: “I feel so much more comfortable in my home. This winter has been so much warmer after receiving a new furnace. I also feel safer knowing that CAC was able to detect and fix a leaking gas line my home … I could not be happier with the work and professionalism of CAC.”
The national budget would eliminate LIHEAP altogether, Santa Barbra County weatherization program would no longer be able to provide for those most in need if said budget were to pass.
For more information on the home safety, energy assistance, and heating programs in Santa Barbara County, call the CAC Energy Services Department at (800) 655-0617.
Matthew Regan is a development specialist with Community Action Commission of Santa Barbara County.