The National Energy and Utility Affordability Coalition (NEUAC) is a coalition of organizations and individuals concerned with the energy needs and issues of the nation’s low income population. The NEUAC conference was held the first week of June and many varied and informative workshops and sessions were offered. The sessions covered topics from Outreach to Vulnerable Populations to Policy, Advocacy, and Education to name just a few. However, a common topic that relates directly to South Central Human Resource Agency were sessions concerning the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program or LIHEAP. LIHEAP serves a vital life-saving role; providing the means to consistent home heating and cooling to those most at risk. The program is an efficient and effective tool that collaborates with community based programs to support thousands of vulnerable citizens including the elderly, disabled, unemployed and families with young children. This financial assistance with energy costs can allow families to remain in the safety and security of their homes.
In the state of Tennessee in 2017, LIHEAP spent $58,665,764 in utility assistance and weatherization programs. There were over 705,00 Tennessee families that were eligible for LIHEAP, however only 87,527 households received that assistance. In the families that received assistance, over 87% had a family member who was considered vulnerable. A more revealing breakdown of the numbers show 37.82% had a family member over 60 years old, 54.60% had a family member who was disabled and 14.41% of the families had a child under 6 years old. In the 2017-2018 fiscal year, South Central Human Resource Agency provided over $2,800,000 to 7,363 applicants across our 13 county region. We also provided over $332,000 is assistance for 30 Weatherization projects across the region. (information from www.neuac.org and SCHRA Annual Report 2017-2018)
Sara Brown, Deputy Executive Director, stated that this conference was “a good chance to meet with peers and see best practices from other states and organizations”. Those in attendance were able see what the agency can do to improve service delivery as well as taking the opportunities to work in conjunction with other agencies and organizations in each county to make sure we are serving each community to the best of our ability.
Photo below of NEUAC attendees L to R: Sara Brown, Deputy Executive Director, Debbie Hopkins, WAP Coordinator, Rebecca Holdmeyer, LIHEAP Assistance Coordinator and Blake Lay, Lawrenceburg City Mayor