Washington Senator Addresses Heating Cuts

By:  Ian Cull
Source: KXLY.com

Federal funding for low-income heating assistance could be cut in half if congress doesn't act quickly.

At the Corbin Senior Center Saturday, a place where some seniors come to stay warm, Senator Cantwell pledged to save Washington's funding for heating assistance.

"It's getting very cold and the need to have people on low-income to have some sort of assistance so they can stay in their homes is really important," Sen. Cantwell said.

In Spokane, the SNAP program pays a portion of the clients heating bill to the power companies. The $5.4 million SNAP received last year, was cut to $2.4 million this year.

"The demand is much greater than the resources would allow us to serve," SNAP CEO Julie Honekamp said. "At a minimum, we need to get as much funding as we can to assure folks stay warm in their homes."

We talked with Sabra Yeoman earlier this week. She used to go to neighbors houses to warm up before bed.

Now, she's able to stay in her own home through SNAP heating assistance.

"This is a weight lifted off my shoulder. I don't have to worry about it. I'm going to be warm," Yeoman said.

Senator Cantwell says the $30 million being cut in Washington isn't going to save taxpayers money, it's going to other states instead. In fact, Cantwell says Texas alone would get $109 million for air conditioning assistance.

"Now is not the time to change the formula that's been in place for 25 years," Senator Cantwell said.

Congress hasn't made its final decision yet, and if it goes forward with slashing the funding, the 14,000 homes that depend on heating assistance would be cut to just 6,500.

"I'm hoping we will get it done in the early part of December, so we can give some certainty and predictability to programs like the one here in Spokane."

Senator Cantwell says she sent out letters to other senators telling them Washington's story on Saturday. KXLY will follow this through congress, and keep you updated if the funding is approved.