The LIHEAP Helps California campaign was launched in April 2017 in response to former President Donald J. Trump’s plan to eliminate LIHEAP in his administration’s first discretionary federal budget proposal for fiscal year 2018. The federal budget, America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again, proposed the elimination of the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) on account of being “a lower-impact program and is unable to demonstrate strong performance outcomes.” California LIHEAP service provider Central Coast Energy Services (CCES) immediately went to work and established the state advocacy platform, LIHEAP Helps California, to contribute to the national movement to prevent the elimination of LIHEAP.
The goal of the LIHEAP Helps California campaign is two-fold: to raise awareness of the impact of LIHEAP and to garner support for the program on a local, state, and national level through legislative and grassroots initiatives. Campaign efforts primarily focus on collecting and disseminating current state performance data and stories of impact to counter the budget proposal’s claim and to bring recognition to LIHEAP as a critical, life-saving program. In recent years, and with the elimination of LIHEAP no longer a threat, the focus of the LIHEAP Helps California campaign has shifted from saving LIHEAP to funding LIHEAP, as only 5% of the eligible population in California receive LIHEAP benefits due to insufficient funding.
LIHEAP Helps California reflects the work done to help low-income households by the people in all the local service providers in the state. It helps build an appreciation of the difficulties of those in need and how funding from the federal government impacts their lives. It offers a reminder to every worker in the LIHEAP network and to the decision-makers about how things would be worse without the program. It emphasizes the value to all of us.