Arkansas is receiving more than $8 million in federal funding to provide relief for low-income families during the COVID-19 pandemic as part of an energy assistance program.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that it would be releasing $900 million in supplemental funding through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
In total, the HHS set aside $900 million in LIHEAP funding. States will be receiving $889,774,513 in funding, and there will be $10,225,487 in tribal set-asides.
Arkansas will be receiving $8,206,119 in funding through the program. The state is at the lower end of the funding spectrum with 30 states receiving greater funding amounts than Arkansas. Texas received the greatest amount of funding with $94,023,896, and Hawaii received the smallest amount of funding with $1,190,942.
In a letter, Lauren Christopher, the director of the Division of Energy Assistance, part of the HHS Office of Community Services, said that states should not consider economic impact payments, also known as stimulus payments, when determining who receives LIHEAP funding.
However, Christopher said that states will have leeway to determine whether to include or exclude CARES Act-funded unemployment compensation when assessing LIHEAP eligibility.
“Therefore, each LIHEAP grantee must decide whether to include or exclude such CARES-Act funded supplemental unemployment compensation payments from the LIHEAP income eligibility calculation. If a grantee rule allows it, grantees may treat these supplemental payments differently than the regular Unemployment Insurance Benefits,” she wrote.
Arkansas’ Congressional delegation, including Sen. John Boozman, Sen. Tom Cotton, Rep. Rick Crawford, Rep. French Hill, Rep. Steve Womack, and Rep. Bruce Westerman, released a statement in support of the new funding.
“The CARES Act takes a comprehensive approach to help Arkansans struggling from the economic toll of this crisis. This funding will help keep families safe and healthy by assisting with energy costs during their time of need,” the delegation said.