Robert M. Coard, President/CEO at Action for Boston Community Development (ABCD) announced today that the hundreds of thousands of Massachusetts households that receive fuel assistance dollars just got a little warmer.
The maximum amount of Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funds a household can receive is increasing from $1,305 to $1,495; the minimum amount is almost doubling from $450 to $895. The maximum High Energy Benefit has also increased from $75 to $100 per eligible households.
“This is wonderful news for families who rely on this money to keep the heat on during these long New England winters,” Coard said.
The bump in funding is due to the fact that Mass. Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) released a funding reserve it had been holding.
When it was first announced that LIHEAP would be fully funded this year, income eligibility changed. Before, a family or individual could earn no more than twice the federal poverty level, or $41,300. Once the program was fully funded, that number was changed to 60 percent of the state median income, or $53,608.
Subsequently, fuel assistance applications increased by 20 percent. 30,000 more applications were received this year. ABCD even opened on evenings and Saturdays to meet the demand. Families and individuals of more moderate incomes were able to apply for federal dollars to help keep the heat on. Now it looks like they will receive even more assistance.
“Every bit helps in tough times like these,” Coard said. “This increase in funds will translate to warmer homes across the commonwealth.”