(BOSTON, October 1, 2014) As cold weather looms and electricity costs spike, Action for Boston Community Development urges the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services to release all funding for the Low-income Home Energy Assistance Program now, so that fuel assistance programs in cold northern states can expedite planning and implementation of fuel delivery to millions of low-income families and seniors who depend on the program to survive the bitter winter months.
ABCD President/CEO John J. Drew thanked the many U.S. Senators who have signed on to a Continuing Resolution LIHEAP Release Letter that is being sent to HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell requesting that HHS release LIHEAP funds as quickly and at as high a level as possible under the current Continuing Resolution that is funding the government until December 11.
“We are grateful to our Massachusetts Senators Warren and Markey and to the many others who have signed this letter,” Drew said. “At ABCD we already have more than 10,000 applications for fuel assistance and there are thousands more statewide. Working poor families and seniors are facing the cold with very limited resources as fuel prices rise once again.”
More than one-third of the more than 20,000 fuel applications received last year at ABCD were from seniors or persons with disabilities.
“These are the most vulnerable members of society, facing yet another frigid New England winter,” said Drew. “If HHS can release ALL the LIHEAP funds now, we are able to establish maximum benefits at the beginning of the winter so people have some idea how to budget to meet their needs.”
Drew pointed out that knowing the maximum benefit also gives ABCD and other programs the ability to negotiate payment plans with utilities to get customers whose electricity or gas was cut off during the summer turned back on before the moratorium on utility shut-offs begins. (The “moratorium” means that utilities are not allowed to turn off customers’ gas and electricity during the winter months. However, if a customer was shut off in the summer and doesn’t have the funds to get reinstated, they are left without gas or electric for the winter.)
ABCD is launching its Winter Emergency Campaign to raise funds, gather warm clothing, and carry out a number of initiatives to help people in need survive the cold winter months.
To donate to Fuel Assistance/Winter Emergency Campaign please go to www.bostonabcd.org or call (617) 348-6559.
ABCD serves more than 100,000 low-income Boston-area residents through its central offices and a decentralized network of Neighborhood Service Centers (NSCs), Head Start centers, Family Planning sites and Foster Grandparent sites. Programs and affiliations include Fuel Assistance; Head Start; Child Care Services; Child Care Choices of Boston; Education; Career Development; Housing and Homelessness Services; Health Services; Family Planning; Urban College of Boston; University High – an Alternative High School; Ostiguy High School for high school students in recovery; Weatherization; Foster Grandparents; Elder Services; Intergenerational Programs; management of the Combined Federal Campaign, Commonwealth of Massachusetts and City of Boston employee giving campaigns; advocacy and consumer services.