When cold weather arrives, the New England Farm Workers fuel assistance program sees more emergencies.
And so far this heating season, they’ve seen a lot of them according to Emergency Program Coordinator Lisa Gilhooly,”In November alone we processed somewhere around 450 emergencies,” says Gilhooly.
And that compares to 450 emergencies all of last year.
In Springfield, it’s been a tough year for fuel assistance with a lot of cold weather ahead of us, many people have already exhausted their fuel allocation,”The problem is a lot of our clients are out of their money already because the price was so high, so even at 11-hundred dollars you’re talking a tank and a half of oil and it’s now mid-January,” says Gilhooly.
Lisa Gilhooly says the fuel assistance program has 700-thousand dollars less to distribute this year.
So what happens when people have used up their allocation of fuel assistance money?,”We refer them to other places , we refer them to the council of churches, we would normally refer them to Joe Kennedy’s program but they have not started, they may be starting at the end of January and really that’s about it,” says Gilhooly.
Gilhooly emphasizes that people should not wait until an emergency to contact the fuel assistance program.
Adding to the need this year is that many people are out of work and have exhausted their unemployment benefits.