FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
With bitter cold blanketing Mass., ABCD Calls on Governor, Legislature, to provide $30 Million for Fuel Assistance
Tens of thousands of low-income families, seniors at risk
as bitter cold hits state; many have used up their heating benefits
(BOSTON, MA) — Action for Boston Community Development joins fellow community action advocates across the state urging the Governor and Legislature to act swiftly to pass the $30 million in state money to supplement federal fuel assistance funds and help struggling households pay their heating bills this winter. Thousands of elderly, children, families and people with disabilities are at extreme risk in the bitter cold sweeping Massachusetts.
A bipartisan coalition of more than 70 state representatives and senators delivered a letter to the governor on January 17 asking him to include the $30 million fuel aid funding in the state’s fiscal 2019 supplemental budget. Federal funding to Massachusetts was cut by $11 million this year, leaving many families in the lurch in a winter when unseasonably cold weather hit hard from November to mid-December and a harsh January was punctuated by this week’s arctic blast.
“ABCD has thousands of low-income fuel assistance customers – many of them seniors and families with young children – who have used up their fuel aid benefits and have nowhere to turn,” said ABCD President/CEO John J. Drew.
He continued, “They are being forced to choose between needed heat, food and medicine. Those who heat with oil or propane are most at risk – when they run out of benefits they may be forced to leave cold homes for shelters or use unsafe space heaters or ovens to fend off the cold.”
Most of the 48,000 oil heat households in Massachusetts that receive fuel assistance have already exhausted their benefits, leaving them in a perilous position for the rest of the winter.
Liz Berube, Deputy Director, Citizens for Citizens, Inc., serving the Greater Fall River/Taunton area said: “CFC joins with all the fuel assistance agencies throughout the Commonwealth in requesting this crucial assistance which is so necessary to address the dwindling benefits of our most vulnerable Massachusetts residents during this severe cold weather. It has already reached the point where there are not enough funds remaining in individual client accounts to obtain another oil delivery, putting at risk the lives of our elderly, disabled and families with young children. It is encouraging to see such strong bi-partison support for this request and CFC is proud to join these efforts on behalf of our clients.”
ABCD provides fuel assistance to income-eligible residents in Boston, Brookline, Newton and seven communities north of Boston including Malden, Medford, Everett, Melrose, Stoneham, Winchester and Woburn. Last year over 26,000 households received ABCD Fuel Assistance.
As the costs of housing, food, clothing and transportation rise — along with a 25 percent increase in energy costs – many families and seniors are barely getting by. Assistance with winter heating bills is vital to keeping them in their homes and avoiding homelessness, hypothermia or hospitalization.
ABCD taking applications across the region
ABCD urges those who might qualify for fuel assistance to apply immediately. With a sliding scale of benefits, the program serves a wide-range of income levels. Right now families at 100 percent of poverty – with an income of $25,100 for a family of four or $12,140 for a person living alone – will receive $1,400 in fuel assistance.
Help is also available on a sliding scale for those slightly above poverty level, to prevent them from falling through the cracks. For example, a family of four earning $68,289 or a single person with an income of $35,510 will receive $739 in fuel assistance.
Applications for fuel assistance are available at ABCD’s downtown office and any of its Neighborhood Service Centers, or by calling the ABCD Fuel Assistance Hotline at 617-357-6012. Residents of Malden and surrounding towns may call 781-322-6284. Those living outside of Boston, Malden and surrounding towns may call the MA Heat Line at 800-632-8175. More information including a list of Boston-area site locations and phone numbers may be found at bostonabcd.org/fuel-assistance.
ABCD also offers qualifying families a comprehensive range of energy services to keep families warm including repair and replacement of inoperable or highly inefficient heating systems, utility discounts, weatherization, programs to improve energy conservation, and much more.
Donations gratefully accepted
ABCD is grateful for any private donations to the ABCD WINTER FUND which will be used to help those in fuel assistance emergencies. Your generous gift can save a household from hypothermia, stop a family from turning to dangerous heating substitutes, prevent sickness, and dramatically improve quality of life. If you’d like to donate to the ABCD WINTER FUND, please call 617-348-6559, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit bostonabcd.org/give.
A nonprofit human services community action organization, ABCD provides low income residents in the Boston and Mystic Valley areas with the tools, support and resources they need to transition from poverty to stability and from stability to success. Each year, we’ve served more than 100,000 individuals, elders and families through a broad range of innovative initiatives as well as long-established, proven programs and services. For more than 50 years, ABCD has been deeply rooted in every neighborhood and community served, empowering individuals and families and supporting them in their quest to live with dignity and achieve their highest potential. For more, please visit bostonabcd.org.