Federal funding to help the elderly, poor stay warm this winter

The state received nearly $150 million this year to help families heat their homes

BOSTON (WWLP) – Winter is approaching and for many households that means making sacrifices in order to heat their homes. Fuel might seem like a necessity for New England families, but Paul Bailey from the Springfield Partners for Community Action told 22News it’s downright unaffordable for many.

“Everything being so expensive, you have to choose what you’re going to do. People have to pay rent – that’s expensive. They have to pay other things; they have to support their children, so it becomes very difficult,” said Bailey.

The Massachusetts Association for Community Action connects both the poor and working families with fuel assistance paid for by the federal government. Residents have to qualify for the program. A family of four living off an annual income of $65,387 would be eligible for fuel assistance. The state received nearly $150 million this year to help families heat their homes.

Massachusetts Association for Community Action President Clare Higgins told 22News, “The state doesn’t have enough money to fund this program by itself. The money comes to the state and the state passes it onto agencies to our agencies, so without the federal money fuel assistance wouldn’t be happening.”

This funding is critical. About 7,000 households in Franklin and Hampshire Counties rely on heating assistance every year. The federal fuel assistance program helps up to 200,000 families across Massachusetts stay warm in the winter.

Residents can contact their state representatives and senators to apply for heating assistance.