Mystery author Stephen King is raising money to help low-income residents in Maine after federal funding was cut by the Obama administration for heating programs serving residents who are poor, disabled or elderly.
The Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation is working with the three Bangor, Maine, radio stations that the writer also owns to try to raise at least $140,000 in coming weeks.
King, a part-time resident of Maine, hopes that citizens will put up half of the amount, while the other half will be a matched donation coming from the foundation, he told the Bangor Daily News on Tuesday.
“This economy is terrible and Tabitha and I both worry so much about Bangor because it truly is a working-class town. We are always looking for ways to help, and right now this is a great need.”
King's effort comes after the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said it would provide Maine with $23 million in heating program funds this winter, less than half last year’s aid of $55.6 million.
Poor, disabled or elderly people are those most affected by cuts to the federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). The Obama administration made the cuts, from the $5.1 billion enacted for 2010 to just $2.57 billion, a 50 percent reduction.
The Administration’s reasoning is that Congress sharply increased LIHEAP funding for fiscal year 2009 in response to a substantial energy price spike in 2008, and that the proposed cut merely returns LIHEAP funding to historic levels received for 2008 prior to the energy price spikes.
“Stephen and Tabitha are very dedicated to this,” Anne Gabbianelli, news director at Bangor’s WZON “The Pulse” Radio, said on Wednesday. “Our job now is to raise $70,000 so that they can match it.”
WZON DJ Pat LaMarche said that, starting November 21, she will spend about a week living in a wooden shed outside the station to call attention to its “Help keep ME warm this winter” campaign.