"More than 30 million low-income households that are eligible for federal funding to defray the cost of air conditioning have not received any money from a government program that was created to protect vulnerable people from dangerous temperatures, an E&E News analysis shows.
The dearth of cooling assistance going to households nationwide reflects shortcomings in U.S. and state policies to address the dangers of extreme heat as it kills more Americans than other weather-related disasters, according to some experts. It comes during a summer of unmatched climate catastrophes, including the hottest month on record.
The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP, distributes roughly $4 billion a year to states to help residents pay for air conditioning and heating and equipment repairs.
But in 16 states, including some with significant heat risk, not a single household received money to pay cooling costs from 2001 through 2021, according to E&E News’ analysis of federal records. The program, run by the Department of Health and Human Services, has focused instead on providing heating assistance. Every state helps eligible residents pay their winter heating bills, compared to just 24 states that paid for air conditioning costs in 2021."