States Fund an Expanded Range of Activities Under Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Block Grant

HRD-84-64: Published: Jun 27, 1984. Publicly Released: Jun 27, 1984.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the implementation and the program effects of the block grants created by the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1981. The report focused on the status of the low-income home energy assistance (LIHEA) block grant in 13 states.

GAO found that the LIHEA block grant expanded states' flexibility and authority and permitted funds to be used for a broader range of activities than previously permitted. Unlike other block grants created under the act, LIHEA received increased appropriations over the level established for the prior program to assist eligible households in meeting the costs of home energy. While heating assistance continued to account for the bulk of expenditures, most of the 13 states used their new authority to provide weatherization, transfer assistance funds to other block grants, and carry over funds to the following year. In addition, states gave increased emphasis to energy crisis assistance. Few changes were made to program management procedures. Overall, state executive and legislative branch officials found the block grant less burdensome and more desirable than the prior program.

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