Meeting Winter Heating Bills for Needy Families:

How Should the Federal Program Work?

HRD-79-12: Published: Apr 26, 1979. Publicly Released: Apr 26, 1979.

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To alleviate the burden of high heating costs on low-income households during severe winter emergencies, Congress has appropriated $200 million a year for 1977, 1978, and 1979. The program, administered by the Community Services Administration and carried out by the states, paid utility bills and other energy-related costs for the needy. Under the Special Crisis Intervention Program, funds were distributed to the states based on the severity of the winter, the number of poverty households, the number of elderly in the households, and the regional fuel cost.

Controls over eligibility and the distribution of funds have not been managed well and there has been no assurance that families in the greatest need are served first. The program needs to be strengthened if assistance is to be effective.

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