Thousands of Households To Be Helped Immediately
On behalf of thousands of vulnerable households struggling with their energy burden across the Commonwealth, we thank Chairman Michlewitz and the House Ways and Means Committee for drafting a supplemental budget that includes $15M for Fuel Assistance. We truly appreciate the support of the entire House of Representatives, and we are grateful that with the passage of this budget the House has committed to helping MA residents stay warm and safe this winter.
We remain incredibly grateful for Speaker DeLeo’s historic commitment and continued leadership on Fuel Assistance and his personal dedication to the programs that support hundreds of thousands of low-income families in Massachusetts.
We look forward to working with the Senate to secure the same funding level in their budget. Recently, a bipartisan letter of support for supplemental funding for Fuel Assistance had the support of a majority of the senate.
A state allocation of $15 million will allow Community Action Agencies to help vulnerable households (most households have used up their benefit) get oil deliveries of 100 gallons. It will also allow for protection for gas and electric customers against potential termination following the end of the moratorium (April 1, 2020).
Absent this funding, families are forced to make difficult and often dangerous choices to heat their homes. In many cases, they opt for an alternative approach such as a space heater, stove, or fireplace, which increases the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Otherwise, they must make budgetary trade-offs that can jeopardize children’s health, choosing heat over food or health care. Seniors, veterans, families with children and others are counting on our Commonwealth to provide the home heating support they need, particularly in light of the federal reductions. Approximately 160,000 households benefit from fuel assistance each year.
The Massachusetts Association of Community Action’s 23 private, non-profit human service and advocacy organizations work to administer key anti-poverty programs in every city and town in the Commonwealth. These organizations serve approximately 600,000 low-income people annually, more than half of them with incomes below 125% of the federal poverty level. Those interested in learning more about fuel assistance can visit MASSCAP’s website on the LIHEAP program, heatinghelpma.org, where information on eligibility and the agency serving their community can be found.
For more than 50 years, Community Action Agencies have been on the front lines of addressing poverty — administering federal programs, federal community services and community development grants, and state funds. CAAs are economic engines in cities and towns across Massachusetts, providing communities with an annual infusion of over $500 million in total resources. CAAs generate at least twice that amount helping clients achieve economic stability and mobility.