Curry bill to help access heating assistance unanimously supported in Senate

Thu, 03/31/2022 - 6:00pm

AUGUSTA — The Maine Senate voted Thursday in favor of a bill from Sen. Chip Curry, D-Belfast, to reduce barriers Mainers face in accessing heating assistance.

LD 1966, “An Act To Facilitate Access to Heating Assistance,” received unanimous, bipartisan support.

“When someone reaches out for heating assistance, it’s almost always because their need has become dire. Unfortunately, this winter, we heard story after story of Mainers being forced to wait months to receive the assistance they needed urgently,” said Sen. Curry. “By making this commonsense change and removing bureaucratic hurdles, we can make sure more Maine families get the heating assistance they need, when they need it.”

LD 1966 would require the Maine State Housing Authority to adopt rules for the administration of its fuel assistance program that require local program operators and administrators — particularly the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or HEAP — to accept online applications.

Local Community Action Programs administer applications for HEAP. The current process of applying for HEAP has created a bottleneck for applicants, with far too many Mainers waiting months to receive the assistance they need and qualify for.

The committee amendment adds an emergency clause to the bill, meaning that it would go into effect immediately upon becoming law.

“I’m proud of the work that the Legislature is doing to help Maine people keep their lights on and their homes warm, and I’m eager to see this bill cross the finish line,” Sen. Curry said. 

LD 1966 faces further votes in the Legislature.