Funding to help families with utility shutoffs

HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – Temperatures are getting warmer, but not warm enough that people have stopped struggling to keep their homes comfortable during the chilly nights. Fortunately for the thousands of poor families in western Massachusetts that received shutoff notices from their utility providers, there could be some help on the way.

Governor Deval Patrick has released $20 million in funding to agencies statewide to help people get the heat back on. One of these agencies is the Valley Opportunity Council in Holyoke.

VOC Director of Energy Programs Gail Piscane told 22News that most of the $1.4 million in funding they are expecting is meant for people who are facing shutoffs.

Families who heat with gas an electricity may apply for up to $600 to pay their utility bills. The council serves six thousand families who heat with either gas or electricity.

“Many of these people are really struggling. They’re at the very low end of the income spectrum, and they don’t have the money to pay their utility bills which get really high during the winter,” Piscane said.

If you qualify for assistance from the Valley Opportunity Council just call (413) 552-1548. You can also learn more about energy assistance and the other programs that the VOC offers, visit their website at

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