On a rainy day in New Orleans, people file into a beige one-story building on Jefferson Davis Parkway to sign up for the Low-Income Heating and Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), a federal grant that helps people keep up with their utility bills.

New Orleans has one of the highest energy burdens in the country, meaning that people must dedicate a large portion of their income to their monthly energy bills.

“We’ve got folks wrapped around the block,” said Andreanecia Morris, the executive director of a housing advocacy non-profit called HousingNOLA.

This rise, paralleling a dramatic stratification of wealth in some American cities, has widened the disparity in energy burdens between low-income and well-off households.

The results were unsurprising, but stark.

Living in under-heated homes puts occupants at a higher risk of respiratory problems, heart disease, arthritis, and rheumatism, according to ACEEE and EEFA.

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