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Aid cuts leave low-income homes unheated in polar vortex

The freezing weather sweeping across the U.S. highlights the danger of cutting basic safety nets


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Natasha Lennard
January 7, 2014 10:01PM (UTC)

As the polar vortex sweeps eastward from the Northwest, carrying temperatures well below zero with iced winds, hundreds of thousands of Americans struggle with limited resources to fend off the cold. As the Huffington Post highlighted Tuesday, "sequestration's budget cuts last year meant that thousands of families were left in the cold this winter."

Congress cut funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program by about $155 million, with a total funding decrease from $5.1 billion to $3.32 billion since 2010. Approximately 300,000 Americans will struggle to heat their homes at all.

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While heating costs are higher, fewer households are receiving aid from LIHEAP to help cover the cost, and the average home is receiving less aid. The average percentage of home heating covered by LIHEAP has dropped from 52.5 percent to 41.5 percent in the last four years.


Natasha Lennard

Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email nlennard@salon.com.

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