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Low-income Vermonters get $18.5M in heating funds

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November 5, 2013 10:01 AM EST | AP

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Low-income Vermonters will be getting nearly $18.5 million in federal heating assistance funds.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is making $2.9 billion available nationwide from the Low Income Home Energy Assistance program, or LIHEAP, of which Vermont will get $18.45 million.

In the first release of funds Vermont is slated to receive $16.6 million.

"With temperatures already dropping well below freezing, many Vermonters are struggling to heat their homes, and this is a timely infusion for this vital lifeline. But more is needed, much more must be done, and we will continue to press for additional support for LIHEAP to ensure that struggling Vermonters are able to heat their homes this winter," said a joint statement issued by Sens. Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders and U.S. Rep. Peter Welch.

DHHS says it will release another $354 million nationally, including $1.8 million for Vermont, once Congress passes a budget through the remainder of the current fiscal year.

In 2013, the Vermont Legislature approved $6 million for LIHEAP. Last month, the Vermont Emergency Board added another $2.1 million in state money to the fund.