As cost of home heating rises, federal assistance is lower than last year

BOSTON – Clarence Smith knows a thing or two about heating bills piling up. He says he is still paying off his natural gas bill from last year.

“Right now, I’m still a little minus on the gas,” Smith said.

There are concerns that thousands of people will soon be in the same predicament. As the weather cools, the cost of heating is rising. The Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources estimates that electric heating will be 54.6% more expensive this winter, natural gas will be 28.6% more expensive, and the cost of heating oil will be 18.6% more expensive.

Federal heating assistance funds, also known as LIHEAP, have decreased. Last year, LIHEAP funds totaled over $8 billion nationwide due to COVID relief funds. This year, they total roughly $5 billion.

“It really isn’t going to be sufficient given inflation, given the higher cost of all these utilities,” said Sharon Scott-Chandler, the President and CEO of Massachusetts heating assistance organization Action for Boston Community Development.