SUBMITTED NEWS RELEASE
CARSON CITY — The Energy Assistance Program (EAP), administered by the Division of Welfare and Supportive Services (DWSS), has insufficient revenue to continue to process applications for State Fiscal Year (SFY) 2011 which ended June 30th. Approximately 1,700 pending SFY11 applications will be denied for lack of sufficient funds; however, these applications will be processed within the next 30-60 days for the SFY12 program year. Eligibility will be determined under the new program year eligibility guidelines and benefit amounts as funding becomes available.
The Division has seen a substantial rise in the number of Nevada households receiving Energy Assistance each program year, from 21,900 in SFY09, to 27,500 in SFY10 to 32,600 this last program year. Concurrently, federal funds have been declining. The Division received $15.8 million in federal funding for the Energy Assistance Program last fiscal year, which was a reduction of $3.2 million dollars from the prior year. The President’s proposed FFY12 budget contains substantial cuts to the Energy Assistance Program, which if passed is estimated to reduce the funding available for this program year by an additional $11.9 million cutting the federal funding for 2012 by slightly less than half from SFY 2011. There is a very real probability the Division will exhaust SFY 2012 funds without serving all eligible applicants.
“These cuts in federal funding will have a significant affect on Nevada families struggling with the highest unemployment rate in the nation,” stated Romaine Gilliland, Administrator for the Division of Welfare and Supportive Services, “for many families the assistance we are able to provide will not be enough to keep the lights on.”
The Division, in an effort to provide a measure of meaningful assistance to as many families and individuals as possible, given the profoundly reduced funding, narrowed the financial threshold to qualify for benefits and lowered the amount of assistance provided to each qualified applicant. In SFY 2011 the average benefit per household was $860. In SFY 2012, the average benefit is expected to be $500. In order to qualify for energy assistance, the family’s gross monthly income must fall below 110% of the federal poverty level ($2,049 for a family of four) in 2012 as opposed to 150% of the federal poverty level ($2,794 for a family of four) in SFY 2011.