Exceptionally cold temperatures leave some families in need of fuel assistance to heat home

The fuel assistance program gets $122-million a year from the state

CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – The arctic blast is finally over, but some families are still dealing with the effects of the cold.

In an average winter, New England families go through three to four tanks of heating oil a year.

This year has been exceptionally cold. Tuesday was the first day temperatures reached above freezing since Christmas Day.

“Any normal year, people could make it through,” Executive Director of Community Action, Clare Higgins, told 22News. “But in a year like this where we’ve had sub-zero temperatures for weeks on end, people have already exhausted their benefit.”

The fuel assistance program gets $122-million a year from the state to give each family in need about a tank and a half of free oil.

In below-zero temperatures, the average home can go through 100 gallons of oil in less than a week. That’s why the Massachusetts Association for Community Action is asking for more help from the state.

Without that extra $25-million, all of the 40,000 households under the fuel assistance program in the state will run out of heat by the end of January. Some households will run out of heat by the end of this week.

“I hope the governor can consider giving money to the fuel assistance program,” Nicholas Venti of Whately told 22News.

More than 600 out of the nearly 7,000 Franklin County families that rely on fuel assistance have already used up their tank and a half of oil.

Community Action has their own private fund to help families, but even that is running low.