When you rent a house, your landlord may or may not pay for your electricity and gas. It’s on you to pay for the electricity and gas when you own a home.
That’s becoming a problem because energy prices are going up. As you know, utility costs are going up, but it’s not the only thing. Inflation has made the cost of living go up a lot over the last few months. Those who live paycheck to paycheck and don’t have any money in a savings account are having a hard time paying their bills.
There’s a new project in the works that could help people who can’t afford their utility bills. It could also come at the right time.
A Rise in the Amount of Help
There is already a programme in place to help low- and middle-income families get help with their utility bills. Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP, is the name of this programme for people who don’t have enough money for electricity or gas. Due to a lack of money, the programme can only help about 16% to 18% of families who would otherwise qualify for help. Lawmakers want to change that.
At the start of the year, Senator Ed Markey and Rep. Jamaal Bowman came up with the Heating and Cooling Relief Act. The goal of the bill is to get more money for LIHEAP, which helps low-income families pay their heating and cooling bills.
Comes at an important time. Last year, after the American Rescue Plan was passed in March, many people saw $1,400 stimulus checks in their bank accounts. Bill: The Child Tax Credit was also boosted by that law. It also allowed half of it to be paid in instalments from July to December.
But at this point, there are no plans to make another round of stimulus checks available to the general public at this point in time. When the Child Tax Credit was boosted, lawmakers were trying to keep it in place for another year. Right now, that legislation is in the process of getting a Senate vote, but it’s not going anywhere.
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It’s not likely that President Biden’s Build Back Better plan, which allows for a one-year extension of the boosted Child Tax Credit, will be passed in its current form. There’s a good chance that the boosted credit won’t last for another year. LIHEAP could be a lifeline for families who are having trouble paying their utility bills if there isn’t enough money for it.
Big Changes May Be Coming
If the Heating and Cooling Relief Act passes, it could raise the amount of money LIHEAP gets each year from less than $4 billion to more than $40 billion. The bill would also make sure that no family of four that qualifies would spend more than 3% of their income on utility bills. Low-income families spend 8.6 percent of their income on utilities, compared to just 3 percent for more well-off families.
The Heating and Cooling Relief Act would also make it easier for people who make less money to get help. As long as it doesn’t take the place of another stimulus check or a raised Child Tax Credit, it can help fill in the gaps and make one unavoidable expense easier to deal with.
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