Auditor criticizes state's handling of weatherization program

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) - Pennsylvania's auditor general says the state needs to do a better job in handling a federal program that helps low-income families increase the energy efficiency of their homes.

Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said the Weatherization Assistance Program is poorly administered by Department of Community and Economic Development.

DePasquale said during the 2015-2016 budget impasse, funds were not released to local agencies until February 2016, and DCED had to give $5.4 million back to the federal government.

DePasquale said that money could have helped more than 500 families.

"While it is clear that there was a budget impasse, it shows a complete lack of preparation for when that budget was finally done to get this money out the door and weatherize those homes," DePasquale said.

DePasquale called on the General Assembly to pass a law that requires federal funds for at-risk Pennsylvanians to be released to state agencies by July 1.

In its written response, included in the audit, DCED stated that “weatherization is not an emergency program, therefore, there are no at-risk issues that are being addressed."

"It's a bunch of crap," DePasquale said. "This is an emergency program and DCED needs to fix this immediately."

A second audit looked at how the Department of Human Services handles the federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which helps low-income families pay their heating bills. DePasquale said overall, the department is doing a good job at managing LIHEAP.

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