At 1pm today Community Teamwork (CTI) is holding a press conference at Lowell City Hall about the 2011 Fuel Assistance program. This year’s Fuel Assistance starts today – November 1.
From the CTI press release:
Lowell– As the region struggles to return power and heat to the many families left cold and in the dark after this weekend’s storm, the stark reality of how thousands of low income seniors and families will be struggling to stay warm this winter is coming into chilling focus.
Community Teamwork Inc., which runs the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) for the entire Greater Lowell area, is issuing some troubling statistics as the November 1st kick-off for winter heating assistance draws near.
Applications for the LIHEAP program are up over 8% when compared to last year.
Out of the 8,971 clients that have applied so far the following applies:
3,377 Have an Elderly person as Head of Household
1,534 Have a child under the age of 5 years
3,062 Have a disabled member in the household
After over a month of delays, the federal office of Health and Human services issued a partial release of information and funding late last Friday that set benefit levels at almost 25% lower than last year. This dropped the benefit range from between $310-$515 last year to just $240-$400 this current season. These reduced levels will leave thousands of seniors and low income families at high risk during this already threatening winter season. With current oil costs at $3.615 per gallon a significant number of clients won’t be able to even purchase a full tank with their benefits and most households will require between 4 and 5 tanks over the course of this winter.
There are over 60 local oil vendors – most small family-owned businesses that partner with CTI to serve thousands of LIHEAP clients.
More needs to be done on this issue of fuel assistance. Congresswoman Niki Tsongas is fighting to restore funding to this year’s LIHEAP program – hoping to get the funding to more appropriate levels this year.
For more information about LIHEAP and other programs at CTI cal 978-459-0551.
Disclosure – I am a past President of the Board of Director of Community Teamwork INC and a current Board member – serving since 1992.