Gov. Jim Douglas announced last week that the roughly 23,000 households in Vermont receiving home heating assistance through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) will soon receive a supplemental benefit, thanks to a recent release of federal contingency funds for the program. Vermont has received approximately $3.8 million in federal LIHEAP contingency funds. The large majority of these funds will be distributed to eligible Vermonters as an additional heating assistance benefit, and a portion will be devoted to crisis heating assistance administered through the community action programs statewide. Home heating costs continue to rise, and I am very pleased that the federal government has been responsive to the very real needs of families to heat their homes this winter, noted the governor. I truly appreciate the concerted efforts of Vermonts Congressional delegation, and the Vermont Legislature, in working with my administration to secure and distribute this critically important funding for low income families in our state. The LIHEAP program helps eligible families pay the costs of heating their homes in the winter. Thanks to financial commitments made by Douglas and the Vermont Legislature, Vermont provides the most generous LIHEAP benefit in the country, averaging approximately $1169 per household. Eligible families should expect to receive their supplemental LIHEAP benefit before the end of February, and do not need to reapply for the program. Vermonters who think they may be eligible for LIHEAP assistance should request an application by calling the Office of Home Heating Fuel Assistance toll free at 1-800-479-6151. Applications are accepted through Feb. 29.