BOSTON – Senator Michael O. Moore (D-Millbury) joined a bipartisan group of more than 70 lawmakers to request that Governor Charlie Baker assist state residents who are at risk of being impacted by federal funding shortfalls for the low-income heating assistance program known as the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). The program serves 160,000 households in the Commonwealth.
“Families that rely on the LIHEAP program cannot wait for the warmth of spring to heat their homes,” Senator Moore stated. “I’m proud to support this initiative to increase funding for the LIHEAP program to assist our neighbors who are already struggling to make ends meet.”
The letter, co-signed by Senator Moore, requests a $30 million state appropriation to address shortages in heating fuel access. A majority of households heated by oil and supported by the program have already exhausted their fuel assistance benefit. All recipients of fuel assistance in Massachusetts are expected to have exhausted their assistance funds by the end of January, leaving them in a perilous position for the rest of the winter, unless additional funding is secured.
LIHEAP provides eligible households with help in paying a portion of winter heating bills. Eligibility, based on household size and the annual income of every adult household member, provides assistance for electric and gas utility bills and other heat sources including oil and propane.
The fuel assistance program, administered by the state Department of Housing and Community Development, and carried out by community action agencies and other community groups, has experienced a 20 percent increase in applicants when compared to last year.
The lawmakers, hopeful for a swift resolution, note that there has been significant cooperation between the branches over the past three decades in responding to limited federal funding and extreme winter weather conditions.