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Home heating assistance is now available

Deidre Montague
Home heating assistance is now available
Qualifying households can receive assistance for all sources of heat, including oil, electricity, fuel, natural gas, propane, kerosene, wood and coal. PHOTO: ERIK MCLEAN/PEXELS

The state recently announced that families can now apply for home heating assistance, easing a financial burden for many low-income households.

Applications are being accepted online, and income-eligible households can receive financial help to offset heating bills through April 30, 2024, according to the Massachusetts Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities.

Ed Augustus Jr., the state’s secretary of housing and livable communities, said no resident should have to worry about heating their home during the winter.

“High fuel costs can have a devastating effect on household budgets and can even endanger Massachusetts’ most vulnerable residents,” Augustus said. “We encourage anyone who needs heating assistance to explore their eligibility by applying online or visiting the nearest administering agency.”

The statewide service is funded by the federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which pays a portion of the heating bills for eligible households.

The program is run locally through Action for Boston Community Development, which  last year provided home heating assistance to 29,963 households in Greater Boston, thanks to federal and state funding, officials said.

Sharon Scott-Chandler, ABCD’s president and CEO, said the heating assistance program, now in its 40th year, can be a lifesaver for many families who cannot afford their heating bills.

She said residents sometimes use space heaters and ovens or light candles to stay warm. High heating costs, which can exceed $1,200 for the winter season, are especially burdensome to low-income residents or elderly people also juggling high prescription prices.

“We know that our elders and many other households (are) choosing between medication and paying their heating bills,” Scott-Chandler said. “This program has been able to help people survive on many levels.”

Scott-Chandler said she is encouraging people who think they are not eligible to receive assistance to contact ABCD to address their questions. She’s also urging elderly residents to not hesitate to apply.

Families must meet specific eligibility requirements to qualify for aid, which will be paid directly to their heating vendor.

Eligibility is based on several factors, such as household size and combined gross annual income of residents 18 and older. Qualifying households — including those whose heating cost is included in the rent — can receive assistance for all sources of heat, including oil, electricity, fuel, natural gas, propane, kerosene, wood and coal, the state said.

The program is open to both homeowners and renters, who can apply online or through local administering agencies for Low Income Home Energy Assistance.

“Many people think, ‘Oh, you know, I’m not low income enough. I don’t qualify for this other program. And so I make too much money,’” said Scott-Chandler. “A family of four can make up to $87,000 and still receive $900 to help pay the heating costs” she said.

“That’s 60 percent of the state median income, which is a higher threshold than some of the other benefit programs,” Scott-Chandler said. “The way this program is structured, everybody who is eligible for the program can receive something.”

To apply for home heating assistance, visit toapply.org/MassLIHEAP

home heating assistance, Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program