Blacks and Hispanics make up bulk of US fuel poor

Black and Hispanic Americans are more likely to be fuel poor than their white neighbours. A new report from the Energy Equity Alliance (EEA) says more must be done to […]

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By Sumit Bose

Black and Hispanic Americans are more likely to be fuel poor than their white neighbours.

A new report from the Energy Equity Alliance (EEA) says more must be done to help ‘communities of colour’ to deal with rising fuel costs in the US.

According to the 2013 census 14.5% of white Americans live in poverty. That figure rises to 25.8%  for African Americans and 23.2% for Hispanics. They make up the bulk of the fuel poor and are being let down by state and national government.

The charity has called for more money to be found for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) which helps those struggling to pay bills.

LIHEAP has been around since the 1980s but its levels have been cut by governments, including the current Obama administration. The amount of LIHEAP funding fell from $5.1 bn to $3.2bn (£3.4bn to £2.1bn) between 2010 and 2013.

The charity says during this period the numbers of families getting LIHEAP support fell from 8.1 – 6.7 million, leaving far too many without help in a time of rising bills. The majority of these people were from Black and Hispanic communities.

Joe Gibbons chairman of the EEA said: “Because the number of households eligible for LIHEAP is far greater than those able to be served, taking action to advocate for LIHEAP funding and ensure the continued effectiveness of the program is vital to the people and families of these communities. Far too many low income families must choose between heating their homes or having food on the table.”

The charity is calling for Congress to ensure LIHEAP funding is increased.