‘I have to take my time.’ Growing old in Boston without much money is an everyday stress test.

Urban struggles, cost pressures form the backdrop of senior life

Mary Greer, 76, looked over her bills at her home in Dorchester. She struggles with the rising price of home heating oil and is receiving assistance. She has other bills and medical conditions, including cancer. CRAIG F. WALKER/GLOBE STAFF

It’s hard to grow old in the city without much money. The urban landscape, with its cracked sidewalks, patchy transit, and the lurking possibility of violence, is a daily challenge. So is the lingering threat of COVID that hovers in congested buses and crowded waiting rooms.

Cranking up the heat is expensive. And the kitchen of Mary Greer’s home in Dorchester’s hilly Mount Bowdoin neighborhood is far from the vents.

For years, the bill she most dreaded came from the oil company. She looked at a yellowing receipt from last year, $568 for 150 gallons.

This winter, she feared it would cost her more than $700 to fill her tank;she didn’t think she could afford it. “If you don’t got but $10 in your pocketbook, you can’t pay $20,” said Greer, a white-haired woman who keeps up a teasing banter. “I got a big old tank in the basement.”

So she picked up the phone and called Brown Oil Co. She wasn’t sure what to expect, but a Brown employee referred her to nonprofit Action for Boston Community Development, which offeredfuel subsidies of up to $2,200 this year to low-income city residents. Greer was eligible.