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Delayed Federal Funds Hurt Those Relying on Fuel Assistance Program

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HOLYOKE, Mass. (WGGB) –The government shutdown is over, but its effects are still rippling. Paired with Sequestration, federal money for the Valley Opportunity Council’s Fuel Assistance Program was delayed.

Some families who use fuel, oil, or wood to heat their homes have received their benefits, but it still may not be enough.

“$950. That translates into approximately 250 gallons…not even a tank of oil which, for most people, will probably be gone if they got it in November, by the end of December. They’ll probably make it to New Years,” said Director Gail Pisacane.

The program provides financial assistance for low income families so they can heat their homes.

Just last week, the governors of every New England state signed a letter pressing congress to approve $3.6 billion dollars for the Low-Income Home Energy assistance program.

In the meantime it doesn’t stop those who haven’t received assistance yet from worrying.  

“The end of last week it had gotten really cold outside, and we were getting a lot of telephone calls. And people had gotten really concerned,” Pisacane noted.

Many who use the program are on Social Security. Another large portion consists of working folks who are struggling to get by.

The council is currently in the process of organizing a trip to the state house to lobby for more money for the program.

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