$159M in low-income heating assistance awarded to Massachusetts

Saying that big oil companies “don’t care” about low-income households, U.S. Rep. James McGovern, D-Worcester, announced Friday that Congress has awarded $159 million in funding for the state’s $4.4 billion portion of Low Income Housing. Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), part of an annual appropriation passed by Congress in September and signed into law by President Joe Biden.

One in five eligible Massachusetts households had access to home heating last winter, McGovern’s office said. The money allocated will help low-income families manage home heating costs for the coming winter months and at the same time help cover unpaid utilities.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Massachusetts typically received about $130 million in LIHEAP funding, but due to inflation that could increase natural gas costs by as much as 60 percent and what McGovern called “price gouging” by American oil producers, Congress increased this year . appropriation

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“Big oil is ripping people off with price hikes and we’re taking them on. We’re accepting their greed and calling the price, giving people the means to heat their homes this winter,” he said.

“We in the Massachusetts delegation in Congress have asked for a quick release of home heating assistance and I am proud to see this huge amount of money moving quickly into the hands of the people who need it. Our first priority is working to lower costs and get money in the pockets of working families and that’s what this LIHEAP finding will do for thousands of households across the Commonwealth.”

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The funding includes $118 million for the LIHEAP program for Massachusetts families, an additional $36 million in supplemental funding provided by Congress and $3.7 million in funding from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

McGovern said American households are battling two issues affecting heating prices this year. “Big Oil is taking advantage of Putin’s War (against Ukraine) by not producing as much oil as they could, resulting in price increases,” McGovern said. “At the same time, their profits are rocketing to record levels. They’re ripping people off and using inflation as an excuse.”

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Russian oil, which was part of the price structure on the international market, is no longer available because of the war and McGovern said Saudi Arabia and OPEC are reducing their oil production to force prices up.

LIHEAP has been helping American families for over 40 years and is administered through the Department of Health and Human Services. The $4,492,719,317 in funding for fiscal year 2022 is distributed to all 50 states, the District of Columbia, three territories and more than 125 federally recognized Native American tribes. The fund can be used for direct payments for heating and cooling costs, bill payment assistance, energy assistance, weatherization, and energy-related home repairs.

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