ABCD very grateful for $4.5 billion in American Rescue Plan (ARP) funding for heating assistance

November 29, 2021

Susan Kooperstein

Lee Phenner

ABCD very grateful for $4.5 billion in American Rescue Plan (ARP) funding for heating assistance

As temperatures plummet and heating costs spike, organization urges residents to apply now to stay healthy and safe through winter

(BOSTON, MA) — ABCD President/CEO John J. Drew thanked the Biden-Harris administration for
deploying an unprecedented $4.5 billion in American Rescue Plan (ARP) funding to mitigate the burden
of skyrocketing home heating costs for lower-income families.

“This is a watershed moment,” Drew said. “We know that LIHEAP keeps households running — and saves
lives. The ARP funding is a major commitment at the highest levels to the well-being of at-risk seniors
and people living with disabilities, to hard-working families struggling to make ends meet.”

Getting funds out quickly is key, noted Drew. “Frigid winter temperatures are here NOW and inflation is
on the rise. When will these dollars reach vendors? When will these elders and families be able to turn
up the thermostat? The president’s call to action is a rallying cry for those of us in the ‘supply chain’ to
communicate, collaborate, and implement as seamlessly as possible,” he said.

Biden administration officials call for all parties to coordinate efforts to ensure the swift deployment of
funds. The $4.5 billion in American Rescue Plan funding expands on the November 4th U.S. Health &
Human Services allocation of $3.3 billion, bringing total federal LIHEAP funding this winter heating
season to $7.8 billion – more than twice the normal annual expenditure.

“Massachusetts has an outstanding record for implementation of federal funding initiatives,” said Drew.
“We thank Governor Charlie Baker in advance for expediting LIHEAP funding at a time when the cost of
energy has sky-rocketed! These additional funds will increase benefits substantially.”

Drew requests the state to provide equal benefits for all sources of heat: oil, gas, electricity, propane and

The ARP package includes Emergency Rental Assistance—unavailable in previous winters—to help cover
utility bills. First established last December, Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) programs provide help
with past-due utility bills or ongoing assistance with energy costs to help distressed renters avoid
shut-offs and keep current on expenses. The funds will be available until September 2022.

ABCD’s fuel assistance program is currently up and running, and Drew stresses that residents in need

Right now the fuel assistance benefit for those at the lowest income levels or 100 percent of poverty is $1,030. ABCD estimates that at least $2,000 will be needed to heat an average home for the season.

The 2022 federal poverty level for a family of four is $26,500 in earnings annually or $12,880 for a single

To keep struggling families and elders from falling through the cracks, help with fuel costs is also
available to those slightly above poverty level. For example, a family of four earning $78,751 or a single
person with an income of $40,951 may currently qualify for $618 in fuel assistance.
The new ARP funds will at least double those benefits.

Sky-rocketing costs
This week, home heating oil in Massachusetts is at $3.43 a gallon and up, almost twice the cost last year.
It costs about $800 to fill a tank, and that can run out in a matter of weeks in bitter New England
weather. Vulnerable elders and others who cannot afford to keep their thermostats at a comfortable
level put themselves at risk of getting sick – or worse.

The rise in home heating costs is sparked by a 30 percent increase in the cost of natural gas. Based on
national data, the average residential natural gas bill will increase from $572 to $859 this year while
heating oil costs per household can rise from $1,272 to $1,900. Costs are higher in the Boston-New
England region.

Last year a total of 21,501 applications were received for the 2020-2021 heating season, 2,000 more
than the previous year. To date this season, ABCD has received more than 12,000 applications and oil
deliveries have begun. Based on this early surge of applicants, fuel assistance programs are predicting a
significant increase in the number of households seeking aid.

Apply NOW!
Boston-area residents can apply by calling ABCD Fuel Assistance at 617-357-6012. Those living in the
Mystic Valley region can call 781-322-6284. Help with applications is also available at all ABCD
neighborhood centers. A new online system for first-time fuel assistance can be accessed
at toapply.org/MassLIHEAP. Go to bostonabcd.org/heat for detailed information, including a listing of
neighborhood centers with contact information.

Qualifying for fuel assistance opens the door to a comprehensive range of no-cost energy services to
keep families warm, safe and healthy including repair and replacement of heating systems,
energy-efficient appliances, utility discounts, weatherization, programs to improve energy conservation,
and much more.

ABCD also offers more than 70 programs to meet basic needs and to equip individuals with the
knowledge and resources to pursue their goals and achieve financial stability. For information about and
referrals to all ABCD programs and services, contact abcdconnect@bostonabcd.org or 617.348.6329.

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 after using up their allocation. Your generous gift can save a household from
hypothermia, stop a family from turning to dangerous heating substitutes, prevent sickness, and
dramatically improve the quality of life. If you’d like to donate to the ABCD WINTER FUND, please call
617-348-6559, email give@bostonabcd.org or visit bostonabcd.org/donate.