american rescue plan

White House: Tenn. nets $130M in energy assistance funds from ARP

President Joe Biden’s administration says Tennessee has received more than $130 million in energy assistance for low income homes as part of the American Rescue Plan.

Here’s the release from the White House:

Today, the Biden-Harris Administration announced that due to passage of the American Rescue Plan, Tennessee has received a record $130.4 million for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) available this fiscal year (October 2021 to September 2022). As part of a state-by-state breakdown of funding, the Administration reported that in addition to an annual appropriation of $66.1 million for Tennessee, the state received an additional $64.3 million in funds from the American Rescue Plan – close to double the state’s typical annual funding.

The total of $130.4 million is the highest amount Tennessee has ever received in LIHEAP to help families struggling with the costs of home heating.

• The American Rescue Plan More Than Doubled LIHEAP Funding Nationally: In 2021, the Biden-Harris Administration and Congressional Democrats delivered $8 billion in LIHEAP funding nationally, more than doubling typical annual appropriations due to $4.5 billion provided by the American Rescue Plan. This is the largest appropriation in a single year since the program was established in 1981. These resources are already allowing states across the country to provide more home energy relief than ever before.

• The American Rescue Plan Provided Additional Historic Resources for Utility Relief Including the Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) Program and State & Local Fiscal Recovery Fund: The American Rescue Plan provided other critical resources that states and localities can use to address home energy costs. ERA programs, which received an additional $21.5 billion in funding from the American Rescue Plan, can provide help with past-due utility bills or ongoing assistance with energy costs to help distressed renters avoid shut-offs and keep current on expenses. State & Local Fiscal Recovery Funds can also be deployed to help deliver energy relief to families.

To ensure that these historic resources are distributed swiftly and equitably this winter, the Administration has taken action, including:

• Called on States to Plan Early: In November, the White House called on states, localities, and tribes to plan early to distribute American Rescue Plan funds to address home energy costs this winter.

• Secured Commitments from Utilities to Avoid Shut-offs and Expedite Aid: The White House called on utility companies to prevent devastating utility shut-offs and help expedite the delivery of unprecedented federal aid. So far, 14 major utility companies and a delivered fuel trade association have responded.

• Called for Coordination of LIHEAP and Emergency Rental Assistance Relief to Families: To maximize the impact of home heating assistance, the White House called for states, localities, and tribes to coordinate across programs including LIHEAP and ERA. The Department of Health and Human Services and the Treasury Department have issued guidance and co-hosted webinars on LIHEAP and ERA best practices that have attracted over 500 administrators – collectively representing 47 states, the District of Columbia, and 72 tribal governments. More than 50 percent of these administrators now report they are coordinating across these programs.

Lee administration plans to spend $400M on services for people with disabilities

Gov. Bill Lee speaks at a press conference in Nashville on March 22, 2021. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Gov. Bill Lee’s administration is earmarking $400 million in federal recovery money to provide home and community support services to people with disabilities.

Here’s the full release:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Today, TennCare and the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (DIDD) announced a bold plan to invest up to $400 million of federal COVID-19 relief funds in direct supports for thousands of Tennesseans in need.

The funds, made available through the American Rescue Plan (ARP), will provide home and community-based services (HCBS) for older adults and individuals with disabilities across Tennessee, allowing them to live safely in their homes, support family caregivers, and live their lives as independently as possible within their communities.

“Through this historic investment, Tennesseans with disabilities will have greater opportunities to live independently, participate in the workforce and reach their fullest potential,” said Gov. Bill Lee. “It’s my hope that this enhanced support will shine a light on the important services that caregivers provide and change the lives of Tennesseans across our state.”

“This infusion of funding represents the single largest investment in HCBS services in the state’s history,” said Stephen Smith, TennCare Director. “It is an opportunity  made possible by the TennCare III demonstration approved in January of this year, since the availability of shared savings and additional federal funding via the waiver will help ensure continued state support of these important investments once the federal funding has expired.”

“Serving more people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to reach their employment, community engagement, and independence goals has been a top priority for both DIDD and TennCare since day one,” said DIDD Commissioner Brad Turner. “This is an investment that will change lives, provide relief to family caregivers and direct support staff, and further our vision of supporting people to live the lives they envision for themselves.”

TennCare’s federally-approved plan, developed in partnership with the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (DIDD), is based on broad stakeholder input and focuses on two primary objectives:

  1. Increasing access to home and community-based services for those in need; and
  2. Strengthening the frontline workforce that delivers services to those enrolled in HCBS programs.

This historic plan accomplishes two priorities established by Governor Lee and the Tennessee General Assembly prior to the COVID-19 pandemic:

  1. Provides services to 2,000 individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, clearing the TennCare Employment and Community First CHOICES program waiting list
  2. Invests in recruitment, training and retention of frontline support staff to better serve Tennesseans with disabilities.

Additional information about the plan can be found here.