The following is adapted from a press release from the Office of Governor Deval L. Patrick:
On Wednesday, the Patrick-Murray Administration announced an additional $21.8 million for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), increasing the maximum benefit to help low-income residents in Massachusetts heat their homes this winter.
The additional funding, brings the total Massachusetts allocation to $99.5 million
"As winter’s cold weather arrives, this additional funding is crucial to help many of our neighbors heat their homes," said Governor Deval Patrick. "I thank our Congressional delegation and the Obama Administration for their continued support."
“LIHEAP assistance has supported many households in years past, especially the elderly, disabled and veterans; and this continued funding will help keep more residents warm this winter,” said Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray.
The Commonwealth is expected to receive an additional funding increase in the coming weeks that will bring the total Massachusetts allocation to $132.7 million.
Given this expected increase, the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) has increased benefit levels; the maximum benefit level for the most vulnerable has increased from $675 for heating oil or other deliverable fuels to $1,025; and from $275 for utilities to $525.
“The bottom line is crystal clear. It's not hyperbole to say that without this lifeline, seniors, the disabled and working poor families would be choosing between food, medicine and heating their homes during a brutal New England winter,” said U.S. Senator John Kerry. “We’ve been working a long time to get our state’s fair share and this down payment comes just in time.”
"Heating assistance is crucial to low income families and seniors as they deal with rising energy costs and the rough weather that comes with every New England winter," added U.S. Senator Scott Brown. "I'm proud that the Massachusetts delegation and other allies in Congress banded together throughout 2011 to fight for LIHEAP funding, and I'll continue to support this critical program."
The fuel assistance funds provide eligible households with help in paying a portion of their winter heating bills. Eligibility for the program is based on household size and the gross annual income of every household member, 18 years or older. The maximum income eligibility for LIHEAP is 60 percent of estimated state median income.
“These funds are critical for those who rely on the LIHEAP program to help their homes each winter,” said Congressman Stephen F. Lynch, who represents Stoughton. “I am pleased to see that this funding will be available for those who need assistance and I will continue to fight to restore the funding cut from the LIHEAP program.”
Funded through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, LIHEAP is managed by DHCD in conjunction with 22 regional nonprofit and local government organizations.
Total funding levels are expected to represent an approximate 28% cut in funding from last year’s allocation. Last year, DHCD served more than 210,000 Massachusetts households through the program and expects the need to be even greater this winter.
According to the newsletter, Stoughton senior citizens age 60 and above or disabled Stoughton residents who need fuel assistance should make an appointment to see an Outreach Coordinator at the Stoughton Council on Aging by calling 781-344-8882 ext. 511. All others should call Self Help in Brockton (508-588-5440).