REPORT HITS BUDGET CUTS IN ENERGY AID FOR POOR

REPORT HITS BUDGET CUTS IN ENERGY AID FOR POOR

President Reagan's proposed cuts in programs to help the poor keep warm in the winter and cool in the summer will cause pain, stress and homelessness, a congressional report said.

A proposed $518.3 million cut in federal energy assistance for the poor in Mr. Reagan's fiscal 1989 budget would drop to 13 percent the eligible heating and cooling expenses covered by the program, which provides assistance to 6.7 million households, Rep. Howard Wolpe, D-Mich., said in releasing the study by the Northeast Midwest Institute.In 1981, the year Mr. Reagan took office, federal energy assistance for the poor covered nearly 25 percent of eligible heating and cooling expenses, Rep. Wolpe said.

The considerable erosion of federal support is all the more shocking considering the fact that 'eligible costs' represent only about 40 percent of a recipient's energy bill, Rep. Wolpe said.

The declining funding for the program, an outgrowth of the oil crises of the 1970s, comes amid a background of rising energy costs, the study said.

In 1981 the nation spent $7.47 billion on heating and cooling, and in 1988 the cost likely will be $9.67 billion, the study said.

Many poor families in this country are threatened with the loss of their home heating and other basic utility services because they cannot afford to pay their bills, the study said. As a visible result, the nation's poor experience a high level of pain, stress and homelessness.

The program is grossly and tragically under-funded, said Sen. John Heinz, R-Pa., co-chairman of the coalition. Both the administration and the Congress are to blame - the administration for failing to honor its long-stated commitment to the safety net, and Congress for acquiescing.