Proposal for Program Change
Low income families face considerable challenges in paying for heating and cooling costs and other expenditures relating to household and healthcare. Given these challenges, low-income families and households have difficulties in meeting their basic and immediate home energy needs. While there are various programs that exist to provide funding assistance to these families and households, they do not completely address the issue since they only cover a limited number of these households. Therefore, providing funding assistance to such households is crucial towards enhancing their abilities to meet their basic home energy needs. Funding assistance programs for low income households to meet their home energy needs should be expanded to reach a wider target.
Statement of the Problem
Low income households experience tremendous challenges in meeting their expenses in various areas including energy. These difficulties are largely attributable to the socio-economic status of these families and the increase in household expenses. Consequently, several programs have been developed to help improve the capability of these households to meet their basic home energy needs. One of these programs include the Low Income Home Energy Assistance program (LIHEAP), which is a social service program funded by the federal government to provide home energy funding assistance to such families (National Council on Aging, 2015). While such programs have played a crucial role in helping low income households to meet their home energy needs, they are limited since they only provide help to a small percentage of eligible households. As a result, a significant percentage of eligible low income households are still left out of the federally- and state-funded programs, which implies that they still struggle to meet their basic home energy needs.
Alternative Solutions to the Problem
In light of the limitations of existing programs, there is need to expand home energy funding assistance programs to low income households. One of the proposed solutions for addressing this need is to expand weatherization programs through offering a series of eligible measures for developing shell improvements i.e. air sealing and insulation (Cluett, Amann & Ou, 2016). This would require federal and/or state funding towards the construction of shell improvements in residential buildings and low income areas. There will be need for more staff to conduct audit and diagnostic-testing surveys to help in selection of suitable measures. The second alternative is to form public-private partnerships which are centered on aligning existing efforts to provide energy-efficiency services to low income households. This would entail increasing funding for already existing weatherization programs/initiatives and enhancing efficiency of existing programs.
The Preferred Solution
The preferred solution to address the current gaps in existing home energy funding assistance programs for low income households is to align existing efforts through public-private partnerships. In this case, the federal and state governments should coordinate with non-governmental initiatives to provide assistance to eligible households. This will help in dealing with the current inefficiency of existing programs through promoting concerted efforts between the different stakeholders in providing home energy funding assistance to these households.
The Budgetary Requirements of the Proposed Solution
The coordinated efforts will require funding for identification of eligible households, funding for current weatherization efforts, and funding towards improving current programs. Therefore, the financial needs of the proposed solution revolve around weatherization initiatives and improving the effectiveness of current programs with respect to existing needs. Federal and state governments will play a crucial role in providing the funding as well as non-governmental organizations that provide such social services.
In conclusion, low income households are experiencing significant challenges in meeting their basic home energy needs. Several federally- and state-funded programs like LIHEAP have been established to help address this issue. However, these programs have been ineffective since they only cover a small percentage of eligible households. Therefore, there is need to expand these programs in order to improve their effectiveness. Some of the approaches that can be utilized in this process include expanding weatherization programs and formation of public-private partnerships. The preferred solution to address this issue is the creation of public-private partnerships since it helps in aligning existing efforts.
Cluett, R., Amann, J. & Ou, S. (2016, March). Building Better Energy Efficiency Programs for Low-Income Households. Retrieved December 15, 2017, from http://ilsagfiles.org/SAG_files/Meeting_Materials/2017/January_31_2017/Building_Better_EE_Low_Income_ACEEE_March_2016.pdf
National Council on Aging. (2015, April). Looking Beyond LIHEAP: Alternative Sources of Energy Assistance. Retrieved December 15, 2017, from https://www.ncoa.org/wp-content/uploads/Alternative-Sources-of-Energy-Assistance.pdf
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