US releases $454m in heating aid for the poor 

Posted by ABCD Public Information 1/31/2014 Categories: Fuel Assistance LiHEAP

By Erin Ailworth  |  GLOBE STAFF JANUARY 31, 2014

The Obama administration on Thursday released an additional $454 million in home heating assistance, including more than $18 million for Massachusetts, to help low-income families keep warm through the winter.

Advocates for the poor had pressured the government in recent weeks to release the funds, which remained stuck in Washington even as temperatures in Massachusetts dropped into the single digits and needy families began to run out of aid. The state so far has received $140 million in federal heating aid this season.

Officials at Action for Boston Community Development, an agency that distributes heating assistance to residents in Boston, Brookline, and Newton, estimated the additional money will allow the 50,000 customers in the state who had exhausted their benefits to buy another 100 gallons of heating oil.

Still, John Drew, president of Action for Boston Community Development, said he would keep pressing state officials to supplement the federal money with another $20 million in heating assistance.  “I can’t let these guys off the hook,” Drew said. “If we can get the $20 million from the state, maybe we can get [customers] a couple hundred gallons of oil and get them through the winter.”

Read more.


West End Pantry Is Looking at Changes 

Posted by ABCD Public Information 1/24/2014 Categories: Head Start Low income & poor families sequestration



January 24, 2014

West End Pantry Is Looking at Changes

by Eddie Small, Courant News Writer

The recent $1.1 trillion spending bill passed by Congress and signed by President Barack Obama has reversed some of the nation’s sequestration budget cuts, spurring optimism at Action for Boston Community Development (ABCD), the city’s antipoverty agency.

The ABCD, which runs the West End Food Pantry and offers services such as fuel assistance and the early childhood education program Head Start, had to cut back on about 100 staff members due to the sequester, according to President and CEO John Drew.  Although he did not know for sure how much restored funding and programming ABCD would see from the new federal budget, he was hopeful that the group would get something.

“I don’t want it to get lost down in Washington,” he said. “I want it to come back to where they took it.”

Lia Tota, director of the North End/West End Neighborhood Service Center, said possible adjustments are underway at the West End Food Pantry as well, which is attempting to change its hours of operation to get a permit from the Greater Boston Food Bank.

The pantry, located in the Boston Public Library’s (BPL) West End branch at 151 Cambridge Street, does not have a permit because the food bank says there are already too many food pantries open in the area. This means it cannot get supplies from the food bank and instead relies on shopping at different supermarkets, generally a more expensive option.

“We could, of course, save a lot of money if we went shopping at the food bank, and we would be able to replenish the food more easily and more readily,” Tota said. “So it would be good for the community.”

About 120 people come to the food pantry each month, according to Tota. In June, Helen Bender of BPL’s West End Branch wrote in an email that donations for the pantry were “desperately needed.”

The Greater Boston Food Bank did not respond to requests for comment.  

In order to get a permit from the food bank, the West End Food Pantry will have to change its hours to include either a weekend or an evening to differentiate itself from other neighboring pantries. Its current hours are Mondays and Wednesdays from 11 am until 1:30 pm, but it is looking into switching one of those days and times to Thursday nights or Saturday in the late morning or early afternoon, which could help benefit the working poor. Such changes would have to be cleared with the library.

Tota did not know what the timeline for this process would look like.  “We’re just in the process of applying, and we’ll see,” she said.

Thousands exhausting heating aid as temperatures plunge 

Posted by ABCD Public Information 1/23/2014 Categories: ABCD Fuel Assistance LiHEAP Low income & poor families

By Erin Ailworth  |  GLOBE STAFF    JANUARY 23, 2014

Valerie Perry of Dorchester, whose 92-year-old father, Frederick Alston, lives with her, says she has already spent $1,140 on heat this winter.


Valerie Perry of Dorchester, whose 92-year-old father, Frederick Alston, lives with her, says she has already spent $1,140 on heat this winter.

With temperatures falling into the single digits, some 50,000 low-income heating oil customers in Massachusetts have exhausted fuel assistance for the winter, leaving many in danger of losing heat even as millions in additional funding for the benefits remain tied up in Washington.

The release of an estimated $13.5 million in federal fuel assistance due the state is still awaiting approval from the Obama administration. Meanwhile, advocates for the poor are pressing the state to provide additional money to help meet the growing need.

About 200,000 Massachusetts households rely on government assistance to help heat their homes each winter — among them, 71-year-old Alfred Murray of Mattapan.

Murray, a retired chef who relies on an oxygen tank to help him breathe and suffers from arthritis, says he is not sure how he will keep the heat on the rest of the winter now that his fuel assistance has run out. “I’ll just be without,” he said. “I’ll have to use my oven.”

He received $950 in fuel assistance this year, but estimates it costs up to $1,200 each time he fills the fuel oil tank to heat his four-bedroom Cape Cod-style home.


If more money becomes available, people like Murray could receive additional grants. Fuel assistance tended to last longer into the winter in the past, but the combination of reduced funding and high energy prices has resulted in the money being depleted sooner.

The amount of money appropriated by Congress for fuel assistance has declined to $3.4 billion this winter from $5.1 billion in 2010.

While the assistance applies to all types of fuel, oil customers are most at risk because when their oil tanks run dry there is no heat, unlike gas customers, whose utility service cannot be shut off during the winter under state law.

In Massachusetts, oil heat customers go through about four tanks of oil a winter. At one time, fuel assistance could cover about two of those tanks, said John Drew, president of Action for Boston Community Development, an antipoverty group serving Boston, Brookline, and Newton.

But with heating oil prices above $4 a gallon this year, fuel assistance generally covers less than a tank, Drew said.

As a result, Drew and other advocates are pressing Governor Deval Patrick and his administration to make $20 million in state funds available for heating assistance. The Legislature allocated that amount for heating aid last year, when officials worried that federal assistance would be delayed by the US government’s shutdown in October.

When the federal funds came through, the state appropriation was no longer available.

Massachusetts was allocated $135.2 million. So far, the state has received $121.7 million, with $13.5 million still sitting in Washington

Aaron Gornstein, state undersecretary for housing and community development, said the governor recognizes the pressing need for more aid. “It has been a cold winter so far, so we know that it is an important issue that affects people every day,” Gornstein said. “It’s something that we’re going to want to seriously consider.”

In Washington, Senator Edward J. Markey, a Malden Democrat, said he is urging the Obama administration to release the rest of the federal money to Massachusetts “as quickly as possible.” Obama administration officials could not be reached for comment.

“When bitter cold is bearing down on needy families,” Markey said in a statement, “there is no time to waste to get them these life-saving benefits from the federal government.”

But Mark Wolfe, executive director of the National Energy Assistance Directors’ Association, a professional group in Washington, said those funds are still insufficient to meet the needs as fuel prices rise and temperatures drop.

“At the end of the day, even the extra money the state is getting is not going to be enough,” Wolfe said. “Families are running out.”

In Dorchester, Valerie Perry, a mother of three, said she is hoping for the best. Despite closing off the third floor of her home, lining the windows in insulating plastic, and using space heaters, Perry said she has already spent $1,140 on oil this winter.

Her 92-year-old father, who lives with her, qualified for $415 in heating aid and an emergency delivery of 200 gallons of free oil during a cold snap around the holidays. But the household budget is still tight, with college tuition to pay and a daughter still living at home.

Perry said the heating aid means she has money to pay other bills, such as electricity, and keep her head above water. “I don’t know what I would do without fuel assistance and emergency oil,” Perry said.

Erin Ailworth can be reached at eailworth@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @ailworth.

Report: Program Helps Meet Elder Food Needs 

Posted by ABCD Public Information 1/22/2014 Categories: Elder Services Elderly

by Boston Neighborhood Network News, Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Report: Program Helps Meet Elder Food Needs

Video. A new report shows ABCD's "Food Dollars" program help meet the need of low-income elders to stretch budgets, get more healthy food and access to benefits. Report aired January 21.

Watch Video!

Residents, Kennedy Center Make Holidays Brighter for Charlestown Children 

Posted by ABCD Public Information 1/17/2014 Categories: ABCD Holiday Toy Drive

by Franklin Tucker (Editor) , Charlestown Patch  January 16, 2014

Due the generosity of many Charlestown residents, civic organizations and local businesses, the John F. Kennedy Center Family Service Center’s 2013 Holiday Toy Drive was again a rousing success, with more than 400 local children’s receiving holiday gifts. 

The Kennedy Center – the Charlestown based non-profit organization that provides early childhood education programs, day care and afterschool services, anti-poverty services and elder care – will celebrate fifty years of service to the Charlestown community in 2014. Each year, the Kennedy Center reaches out to the community seeking assistance with its annual Holiday Toy Drive. 

Read more.

ABCD Helping Boston Families 

Posted by ABCD Public Information 1/13/2014 Categories: ABCD Winter Emergency Campaign

by Yadires Nova-Salcedo, host and producer of “Centro,” a special news segment that airs on WBZ-TV, January 11, 2014.


This past Monday January 6th was Three Kings Day, so the spirit of giving is still in the air! If you feel like giving, this week we are featuring a non-profit organization that really deserves your help. ABCD (Action for Boston Community Development Agency) helps our community year round with their many great programs and services. On this edition of “Centro”, we tell you how you can help their Winter Emergency Campaign. WBZ’s Yadires Nova-Salcedo talks with ABCD Executive Vice President, Sharon Scott-Chandler.  Watch Video.

Ex-U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy worried Venezuela isn’t answering his calls for free oil 

Posted by ABCD Public Information 1/13/2014 Categories: Budget Cuts Fuel Assistance LiHEAP Winter Emergency Campaign

HEATING AID IN JEOPARDY: Citizens Energy President Joseph P. Kennedy II, above, says his calls to Venezuela seeking free oil have gone unanswered this winter, fueling fears he can’t count on the country, post-Hugo Chavez, to support his oil-for-the-poor program.

by Matt Stout, The Boston Herald, Saturday, January 11, 2014

Revelations that ex-U.S. Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy II’s annual call for heating oil help from Venezuela has gone unanswered couldn’t have come at a worse time, says one community advocate, who warned that the potentially dry pipeline is yet another setback for families “hit from all sides” this frigid winter.

“This is the point where the Kennedy program would have been in place and helped to get people through a week or two. There’s just not enough resources around,” said John J. Drew, president and CEO of Action for Boston Community Development, which works with Kennedy’s Citizens Energy Corp. to connect hundreds of low-income households with heating oil at a time of year when other benefits run out.

Read more.


Curatone: Pulling together to help state’s needy 

Posted by ABCD Public Information 1/12/2014 Categories: ABCD Fuel Assistance Low income & poor families Unemployment

By Joe Curtatone Guest Columnist, Metro West Daily News, January 12, 2014

For many of us, this has been a season of celebration. But for thousands of Massachusetts residents, the onset of winter is a harsh reminder of the struggle to keep their families safe and healthy. Even in my city of Somerville, where the economy is booming, the gap between the middle class and the poor continues to widen.
And while our state’s economy continues to recover, data suggests that extended under- and unemployment, federal program cuts and other factors have left many of our neighbors and fellow citizens without basic necessities such as heat, health care or adequate food. An increasing number are homeless.

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Michael Vance honored by Noble & Greenough, Massachusetts Council of Human Services Providers 

Posted by ABCD Public Information 1/8/2014 Categories: ABCD

Published by the Bay State Banner 1/8/2014

Michael Vance, Action for Boston Community Development’s vice-president of field operations, has been recognized recently by Noble & Greenough School in Dedham and Massachusetts Council of Human Services Providers for his significant contributions to the Greater Boston community. Vance is a Dorchester resident who lived for many years in Mattapan.

A longtime community leader, Vance has served on the boards of several community and social justice organizations and currently oversees ABCD’s 13 neighborhood centers that provide tens of thousands of low-income Boston residents with access to housing, food pantries, child care, fuel assistance and job readiness programs.

Read more.

Tell Congress to Extend Unemployment Insurance Benefits! 

Posted by ABCD Public Information 1/2/2014 Categories: Unemployment

Now that the Federal Government has approved a two year budget agreement, we need to determine its impact on our clients and communities.  By setting appropriations totals at $1,012.2 billion in FY 2014 and $1,013.6 billion in FY 2015, the agreement allows the House and Senate Appropriations Committees to determine program-by-program spending levels.However, we do know that federal unemployment insurance benefits for long-term jobless was not extended.

We are asking you to contact your federal representatives to ask that they extend the Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) program as soon as they return to work! 

Read more.

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