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HHS directing $100M to help families with heating, cooling costs

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HHS directing $100M to help families with heating, cooling costs
Xavier Becerra, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services announced $100 million in funding Tuesday, to help eligible families pay outstanding heating and cooling bills. Pool Photo by Al Drago/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 25 (UPI) -- The Department of Health and Human Services pledged $100 million Tuesday to help families pay outstanding heating and cooling bills.

The money is the first installment of a five-year, $500 million investment covered under President Joe Biden's Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

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The funding is being added to the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program.

"Millions of working families are experiencing unusually high heating and cooling costs, and it is important that we provide them with the support they need," HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement.

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"I will continue to work with President Biden to protect the health and well-being of all families in need and help lower their energy bills."

The money is the administration's third injection of LIHEAP funding in the past year. Congress appropriated $3.7 billion in annual program funding in September.

"The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is a landmark piece of legislation that provides support at a time when LIHEAP will be an important part of the Biden-Harris administration's efforts to lower costs for working families," said JooYeun Chang, acting secretary for the Administration for Children and Families.

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Under the program, eligible households receive benefits for heating, cooling and crisis assistance, weatherization, budget counseling, and other services to ensure healthy indoor air quality and temperature, according to the HHS.

In total, nearly $8 billion has been invested in the program over a 12-month period.

In the latest round of funding announced Tuesday, the largest amount of money was allocated to Texas, followed by New York and Florida.

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The program was founded in 1981, and more than 5 million American households receive funding from the program each year.

"Our job is to help low-income households maintain continuous, affordable and safe home heating and cooling services, as well as address each energy crisis as quickly as possible. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will help deliver progress towards these efforts," said ACF director of the Office of Community Services Dr. Lanikque Howard.

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