BOSTON (WWLP) — Rising fuel prices combined with a cold and snowy New England winter are forcing up to 200,000 Massachusetts households to make some difficult choices: heat their homes, or pay for other family necessities. With heating aid close to running out in the middle of winter, community organizers are asking the state Legislature for $20 million dollars in emergency assistance.
“So it’s a very dire situation, we have about six weeks left of winter …We’re worried that folks who are suffering from a lack of fuel assistance are suffering some health effects,” said Joe Diamond, the executive director of MASSCAP. “We’re concerned that folks might use dangerous methods to heat their homes.”
Massachusetts received $132 million dollars in federal heating aid assistance last year, which is about $70 million dollars less than what the state has received in previous years. The state Legislature has added $21 million dollars to those funds.
The price of heating oil has nearly doubled in the last ten years; from two dollars to $3.90 per gallon. Republican lawmakers criticize the president for reliance on expensive foreign oil.
“I kind of, I would have to say I fault the president and the federal government for not doing more to make Americans more energy independent, to bring that cost of oil down,” said Rep. Don Humason (R-Westfield).
Heating assistance currently covers one tank of oil for low income families, but community organizers say most households need three to four tanks per winter.
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