Fuel assistance program is safe… for now

Trump proposed eliminating funding for program, Congress restored funds

HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – With temperatures at night dipping into the 30s again, many here in western Massachusetts have turned the heat back on, and thousands of families rely on fuel assistance to keep their homes warm.

Residents who need help will still be able to do so this year, but that could change next year. The federal program that helps low-income people heat their homes has been saved from elimination in the federal budget.

President Donald Trump had proposed cutting about 10% from the current fiscal year’s budget, and eliminating the heating assistance program from the budget that begins October 1. That would include the 2017-18 heating season.

Kathy Cooley, Director of Fuel Assistance for the Valley Opportunity Council, said that thousands of local would be effected.

“It would substantially change about 14,000 lives in this next year. They would really go without heat. They just can’t exist without it,” Cooley said.

Congress has, however, restored funding for that program. Debate about next year is upcoming.