With the arrival of colder temperatures comes the realization that for many, the option of simply turning up the thermostat does not exist. Low-income individuals and families facing disproportionately high energy costs are often forced to make household budget trade-offs that jeopardize children’s health, including choosing heat over food or health care. Fortunately the federally funded Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) can help.
LIHEAP provides eligible households with help in paying a portion of their winter heating bills. Worcester Community Action Council is one of a network of 20 Community Action Agencies, the City of Cambridge and the New England Farm Workers Council providing the program throughout the Commonwealth. A statewide marketing campaign – including billboards throughout the state – strives to dispel myths commonly held about the program and raise awareness about the program in hopes of reaching more eligible households.
Applications for the heating/fuel assistance program are accepted beginning November 1st each year. Eligibility is based on a households combined income as well as number of individuals residing there. For FY18, a single individual could be earning $34,380 and be eligible; a household of four as much as $66,115. Both homeowners and renters can be eligible.
Oil, gas, propane, kerosene, electric, wood and coal are all eligible for home heating assistance. First time applicants are required to complete a face-to-face interview. Applications are accepted weekdays without an appointment at WCAC’s Worcester office, 484 Main Street, as well as by appointment at several satellite sites in Southbridge, Webster, Spencer and Warren. Fuel assistance recipients are also eligible for additional energy-saving programs including weatherization which helps make a home more efficient and thus heating more effective.
For winter 2016-17:
- WCAC processed 14,048 applications for fuel assistance, including 1,971 first time applicants
- 12,260 certified-eligible households obtained fuel assistance benefits totaling $8,476,341 through LIHEAP and distributed via 73 local vendors and utilities.
- 40% of those households receiving fuel assistance were elderly; 15% were households with children under the age of six; 43% of households were either self-employed or otherwise earning wages; 70% of households were receiving Social Security of Disability.
- Weatherization, insulation, heating system repairs/replacement services were provided to 826 households, totaling over $2.4 million in local investment.
Visit www.HeatingHelpMA.org for additional information.
Since 1965, the Worcester Community Action Council has served as the federally designated anti-poverty agency for central and southern Worcester County, with a mission of helping people move to economic self-sufficiency through programs, partnerships and advocacy.
Serving the City of Worcester and 45 neighboring communities of Auburn, Blackstone, Boylston, Brimfield, Brookfield, Charlton, Clinton, Douglas, Dudley, East Brookfield, Hardwick, Holden, Holland, Hopedale, Hubbardston, Grafton, Leicester, Mendon, Milford, Millbury, Millville, Monson, New Braintree, North Brookfield, Northborough, Northbridge, Palmer, Oakham, Oxford, Paxton, Rutland, Shrewsbury, Southbridge, Spencer, Sterling, Sturbridge, Sutton, Upton, Uxbridge, Wales, Warren, Webster, West Boylston, West Brookfield and Westborough.