Fuel Assistance Funding Increase Brings Critical Relief to Families in Crisis

March 1, 2021

Cherrelle Norris

Fuel Assistance Funding Increase Brings Critical Relief to Families in Crisis

ABCD urges struggling Boston-area and Mystic Valley residents to APPLY NOW

(BOSTON, MA) –ABCD, Greater Boston’s antipoverty agency, announces a fuel assistance increase that bumps the maximum benefit to $1,110. The funding brings critical relief to families pushed to the financial brink by the COVID-19 pandemic. The organization urges its neighbors in need to apply for fuel assistance immediately.

In addition, the deadline to apply has been extended to May 28, 2021, enabling income-eligible households to address arrearages dating back to November 1st.

“These times are tremendously difficult for our most vulnerable neighbors. Through no fault of their own, they’re out of work or their income has plummeted. They’re struggling to pay rent, feed their children, and heat their homes,’ said ABCD President/CEO John J. Drew.

Drew went on to say that many of the people ABCD serves have low-wage jobs where they interact with the general public and face greater exposure to the coronavirus. Many are grieving the loss of loved ones to COVID-19. The stress is crushing.

The increase in LIHEAP dollars means that the 16,000 households already signed up for fuel assistance with ABCD will benefit immediately. But many more low-income elders, families with young children, and people with disabilities need this assistance and should apply right away.

Frigid temperatures this winter caused heating bills to spike. Families whose children were at home for remote schooling had to keep the thermostat higher than when the kids went off to school. LIHEAP assistance applies to arrearages back to November 1, 2020. That can make a world of difference for those facing a mountain of debt and worried about their next meal or being able to afford their medication.

New Englanders know that winter is nowhere near over. Nighttime temperatures will hover in the 20s and 30s in the coming weeks, and snow storms can extend the season through April. 

ABCD urges low-income individuals and families who are struggling to get by or who have fallen behind on their gas, oil, and electric heating bills to apply for fuel assistance immediately.

CONTACT INFORMATION: Residents of Boston, Brookline and Newton can call 617-357-6012 and residents of Malden, Medford, Everett, Melrose, Stoneham, Winchester and Woburn can call 781-322-6284. A fuel assistance staff member will take down information and explain how to provide needed documentation, including mailing it, leaving it in a drop-box at ABCD headquarters, photographing and sending from their phones and other options. Applicants can go to bostonabcd.org/fuel-assistance for more information.  

“We thank Senator Edward Markey and our entire Congressional delegation for their tireless advocacy for fuel assistance funding. Their compassion speaks volumes, but they also understand that the stakes are high: for many of their constituents, it’s a matter of life or death,” said Drew. 

Eligibility is based on income and number of household members. Read the guidelines here

For example, a family of four living at or below the federal poverty level of $26,200 would receive the maximum fuel assistance benefit of $1,110. A person living alone at or below the federal poverty level of $12,760 would receive that same benefit.

Years ago, the state expanded eligibility levels in order to keep those slightly above poverty from slipping through the cracks. For example, under the current benefit levels, a family of four earning 60 percent of the state’s median income or $75,201 can receive $697 in assistance. A single person earning $39,105 also receives $697.

ABCD administers the federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) for income-eligible residents in Boston, Brookline, Newton and seven communities north of Boston: Malden, Medford, Everett, Melrose, Stoneham, Winchester and Woburn. 

Last year ABCD provided fuel assistance to more than 25,000 households. ABCD pays the household’s fuel vendor directly.

ABCD outreach to keep residents warm this winter includes working with Eversource and National Grid to reach tens of thousands of customers, and collaborating with a vast number of programs for those facing unemployment, food insecurity and eviction.

For ABCD Fuel Assistance information, call 617.357.6012, visit bostonabcd.org/fuel-assistance or contact an ABCD neighborhood center. Locations can be found on the ABCD website homepage: bostonabcd.org

Those living outside of the ABCD service areas in Boston and Mystic Valley can visit MASSCAP.org or call the statewide number 1-800-632-8175 to be directed to the community action program providing fuel assistance in their area.

Fuel Assistance boosts health, safety, energy efficiency
Home heating assistance is vital to keeping disadvantaged individuals, elders, and families healthy by preventing hypothermia and subsequent hospitalization. And it keeps them safe; too many would otherwise opt for dangerous alternatives such as space heaters or ovens.

ABCD also offers qualifying families a comprehensive range of energy services to keep families warm, safe and healthy 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 home heating fuel assistance or the ABCD COVID RELIEF NOW campaign. Donations can stop a family from turning to dangerous heating substitutes, prevent illness, and dramatically improve the quality of life. To donate, please call 617-348-6559, email give@bostonabcd.org or visit bostonabcd.org/donate.