Funds cut for S.D. LEAP

The Low-Income Energy Assistance Program (LIEAP), a program which helps low-income South Dakotans pay for home heating costs, has seen a significant reduction in its federal funding for fiscal year 2013, which begins July 1, 2012.

The federal budget includes a cut of more than $1.2 billion to LIEAP programs across the nation, cutting the program from $4.7 billion to $3.5 billion. Last year South Dakota received $23.9 million from the federal government in LIEAP funding, aiding 25,600 South Dakota households. This year's amount equals $17.5 million, a cut of $6.4 million.

According to Dave Gall, program administrator for the Energy Assistance program in the Department of Social Services, "Reductions in the federal LIEAP funding will result in fewer South Dakotans receiving services, but the department has worked hard to develop a plan to continue to help as many of the neediest people in South Dakota as possible in the next heating season."

In response to these federal funding cuts, South Dakota has adjusted eligibility and benefit levels to ensure as many people as possible continue to receive assistance.

South Dakotans whose income is at or below 175 percent of the federal poverty level may qualify for heating assistance. This is equal to $33,408 annually for a family of three.

Applications for the 2012-2013 winter season are currently being accepted.

For more information on LIEAP, including eligibility requirements and an application visit http://dss.sd.gov/energyassistance.

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