Heating Assistance Cuts Hitting Mass. Families Hard

By David Wade, WBZ-TV

BOSTON (CBS) — Some people call it a crisis in the making. This winter, it’s more than likely that there will be a lot less money to help people heat their homes.

Dave from Uxbridge is one person who’s worried.

He Declared His Curiosity, asking:

“Why the federal government is cutting fuel assistance to needy Massachusetts citizens?”

We found that it’s all about budget tightening.

“This house is part of us, this is our life. We’ve been here, we’ve had children here, grandchildren and now a great grandchild,” says Dave Trottier.

For 38 years, he and his wife Dorothy have lived in their Uxbridge home. For the last three years they’ve received about $800 to help pay for their heating oil, but recently they received a letter telling them they’d get less than half that, $365, this winter.

The Trottiers are one of about 200,000 Massachusetts households that received federal fuel assistance last year. “We have a very limited income,” says Dorothy Trottier. “I don’t work because I’m disabled and David’s retired,” she adds.

But this year Congress has allocated 40 percent fewer dollars for the program.

Massachusetts’ piece of that pie will probably drop from $197 million to $100 million. “What are these people going to do? End up living in shelters? Give up their homes because they can’t afford to live in them anymore?” asks Dorothy Trottier.

Last year the maximum amount of heating help a family in Massachusetts could get was around $1,000.

This year it’s $515. That cut comes at the same time that the number of families asking for help is going nowhere but up. “Across the state applications are up over 10 percent,” says Karen Frederick who heads MassCap, a group of community organizations that distribute the money.

Paul, a married father of three, recently became unable to work because of a health problem and came to a fuel assistance office in Lowell to apply for help. “We’re just going through some tough times, and this is the first time we’ve needed help,” he says.

With the shift in power to the Republicans in Washington, advocates worry that no additional dollars will be allocated. “We’re already seeing people who are making tough decisions about buying medicines, paying rent or their mortgage, or getting heat,” says MassCap’s Frederick.

Even though they know there are people worse off than they are, the Trottiers are worried and angry. “I would like to have some politician tell me…what are you saving and where is the saving going? Is this a political move?” asks Dave Trottier.

For thousands of people like the Trottiers, this could be a long winter indeed.

The final funding is still before Congress and advocates hope people will push their lawmakers to restore money for the program.

What about our state government? Last year Beacon Hill didn’t put any money towards fuel assistance, and with a large deficit looming, advocates aren’t optimistic about this year either.

For information about fuel assistance and whether you might be eligible go to: www.masscap.org.

More from Declare Your Curiosity
  • taxedout

    Can’t happen!!! Already have gas increase, water increase, property tax increase, tuition increase,gasoline increase,food increase, medical increase. Thank God the Gov is back with his Posse that was Re voted in. Now don’t you worry!!!

  • http://www.richardhowe.com/2010/11/19/fuel-assistance-cuts-a-problem-for-massachusetts/ Fuel Assistance Cuts a Problem for Massachusetts | richardhowe.com

    […] Read the full David Wade article here. […]

  • response

    It will be worse if the tax cuts are not extended. The signing of the tax cuts orignally, made the 15% tax bracket 10% and many of these people still qualified for the earned income tax credit. The earned income tax credit goes away 12/31 and the working poor will now have to pay 15% in income tax instead of the 10% they have paid over the past 10 years.
    They get a double increase along with the increase in everything else taxedout mentioned above.

  • Mo

    This may well be a political issue, but can we put that aside for a moment? I’d like to know if there are any non-profits that provide heating assistance that I can donate to. I may not have much, but I’d like to contribute something. If we (the haves) all send a little bit, it can add up to warmer homes for people in need.

  • hayden sherman

    If they only gave fuel assistance to the people who have to pay for their own heat out of their own pocket instead of giving it to people who have heat included in their rent then we wouldn’t have this problem.
    While the rest of us will be freezing unless we can come up with the money for oil, those that live in heated apartments will have heat and be nice and toasty.

  • taxedout

    As long as Obama’s Auntie is warm, I have No problem!!!!

  • emom

    If they intend to not give as much for fuel assitance , we could see a whole lot of families, introuble, ederly getting sick and or dying, How many folks must die for the government to react , 1,5, 100 this will cause much problems and since the unemployment rate is so high, there will be so many more needing assistance, but we see what happens, they will find money from some where and well dish it out and claim WE HAVE A SURPLUS, OHHH YEAH AND THEN DUVAL LOOKS LIKE A FREAKIN HERO TO SOME,,,,, WHAT FOR IT FOLKS AND REMEMBER WHAT i SAID,,,,,, SUCH A LIAR AND HE WILL BE LAUGHING IN HIS OFFICE TOO…..

  • taxedout

    Gasoline getting to 3 buck a gal…You’ll have to stay in your Cold house cause you can’t afford to go anywhere. should have been a Chelmford teacher, 70K a year and lookng for 15% raise!!!!

  • response

    “With the shift in power to the Republicans in Washington, advocates worry that no additional dollars will be allocated.”…
    Worst line of the entire story…You have had a Dem Congress and House for quite some time and did not get the funds needed…..You also have a Dem Governor, Dem House and Dem Congress in this state, and still do not have the money allocated?…and NOTHING WAS ALLOCATED LAST YEAR.
    There is an agency In MA for fuel assitance.
    The Governor is giving large tax breaks to companies who certainly don’t need it but will not allocate funds for fuel assistance.
    You can donate at this link:

  • macmum

    response..I agree that it’s politics as usual and most will not see beyond the donkey or elephant on their wall…but maybe the phrase “dem” should be chanegd to “dumb” in this case? the only Kennedy worth his salt is working to make sure some don’t freeze this winter. I wish more would look beyond their party affliliation and truely work for the greater good. jmo

  • whatever

    It just gets worse and worse every year. I’m quickly descending into poverty.

    But as long as the big shots are warm and rich, who cares.

  • chuck

    food or fuel? decisions decisions

  • peter

    time for a revolution

  • Greg

    I am with Peter

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