Infusion of American Rescue Plan money boosts Mass. fuel aid program
Boston, MA, January 11, 2022 | Colin A. Young, State House News Service
Massachusetts is getting a record $307.5 million in federal home heating aid this fiscal year thanks to a major infusion from the American Rescue Plan Act, members of the state’s Congressional delegation announced.
In addition to an annual appropriation of $120.5 million in Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funding for Massachusetts, the federal government is also providing $187.1 million in LIHEAP funds from ARPA, more than doubling the Bay State’s typical allotment of money to help low-income households and seniors cover heating costs.
“As the temperatures plummet and the New England cold sets in, Massachusetts families will be able to afford energy costs and stay warm, safe, and healthy this winter thanks to the American Rescue Plan,” said U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, the Springfield Democrat who chairs the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee. “Many individuals and families are still recovering from the pandemic. This investment will ensure that they do not have to choose between putting food on the table or paying for heat.”
U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey said they will work to further expand LIHEAP so that the federal money can be used to help people better prepare their homes for cold weather, not only to provide heating assistance.
“Thousands of additional Massachusetts residents will qualify for vital fuel assistance, and we will once again ensure that our most vulnerable residents are taken care of — especially in the midst of this pandemic,” the senators said. “But as climate change makes seasons more extreme and supply chain disruptions continue to exacerbate energy burdens for families, LIHEAP funding must be allocated to not only give families the annual subsidies they need, but also to provide support for weatherization, which will help them reduce their energy burdens over time.”
In Massachusetts, the Legislature and the Baker administration have often supplemented the federal LIHEAP funding with state dollars amid a steady decrease in federal support between 2017 and 2021.
LIHEAP is administered locally by the Berkshire Community Action Council.
Acceptance of LIHEAP aid applications started Nov. 1, and there have been more than 6,000 applicant households. Typically, there will be about 8,000 Berkshire County applicants by the time the program ends on April 30.
LIHEAP money helps with the cost of oil, natural gas, propane, coal, pellets, wood, electric and kerosene.
To qualify, annual income for a household with one person cannot exceed $40,951. For a family of four, household income could not exceed $78,751.
Depending on household income, LIHEAP can provide up to $1,030 in fuel assistance for those whose income is lower on the scale. For those at the top of the scale, the amount of aid would be $618 for the winter. Those living in rent subsidized housing would receive less.
For more information or to learn how to apply for LIHEAP heating assistance funding, call 866-216-6200 or visit bcacinc.org.
Original story HERE.