CENTEREACH, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – More than 2,000 Long Island families remain on the Weatherization Assistance Program waiting list.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand has called on President Obama and her colleagues in Congress to make funding the State Energy Program a priority.

“Certainly in the northeast because we suffered from superstorm Sandy, there are a lot of families that are in great need,” Gillibrand said.

With winter upon us, Gillibrand said funding for the program is critical.

“I’m worried about families with young children,” Gillibrand said. “In states that have cold winters, these are questions of life and death. If seniors don’t have a well-heated home then their lives are at risk.”

Gillibrand also joined U.S. Reps. Eliot Engel and Nita Lowey to lobby for the Weatherization Assistance Program in Westchester on Tuesday afternoon.

The U.S. Department of Energy runs the Weatherization Assistance Program, which allows low-income families to permanently reduce their energy bills by making their homes more energy efficient.

The funding being sought by Gillibrand would help improve energy efficiency in the homes of needy families.

Since the program began more than three decades ago, the Weatherization Assistance Program has helped millions of families reduce their energy bills by nearly $450 a year on average, according to the Energy Department.

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