Connecticut gets funding for heating help this winter

State gets funding to help residents with heating costs
Published: Oct. 3, 2022 at 6:55 PM EDT
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(WFSB) - With temperatures dropping, help is on the way for those who might struggle to pay their heating bills this winter.

Connecticut is getting about $21 million in federal funding to help low-income families.

While Democrats are highlighting the increase, Republicans argue it’s not enough.

“My household heats by oil. It’s been a great benefit when I’m able and eligible for the program,” said Elisha Conyers, of New Haven.

Through her work with community action agency of New Haven, Conyers helps those struggling with heating costs sign up for the state’s low-income home energy assistance program. It’s a program she’s even used in the past.

“The year before COVID, it was $725, the highest benefit level, now its $600, so I’m a little afraid for families that heat by oil, because $600 isn’t a lot. If you’re talking $4 and something a gallon, you’re talking one fill up and maybe a little something left over,” Conyers said.

Congress recently approved $1 billion for the program with Connecticut’s cut being about $21 million. The governor along with members of Connecticut’s congressional delegation were in New Haven Monday morning to make the announcement.

“This particular piece of help will save some families from being dislodged from their housing. They’re having to deal with escalating costs of the price of rent and they’re having to deal with the escalating costs of fuel and electric,” said Amos Smith, with the Community Action Agency.

Depending on their situation, residents can get anywhere from $250 to $6,000 to help with their home heating costs.

Those earning up to 60-percent of the area median income can apply. In Connecticut, that means a family of four making less than about $76,000 a year, or an individual making about $40,000.

“If you get deliverable fuel, home heating oil you can apply, if you heat with gas, or if you heat with electricity, you can apply for this program,” said Commissioner Deirdre Gifford with the Department of Social Services.

Connecticut Republicans argue the state isn’t doing enough, saying it should use $112 million in unused COVID relief funding to accommodate the increased demand and expand benefits to more working- and middle-class families.

“Instead of a 40% cut to the program, this is now a 26% cut.  A cut is still a cut,” said Sen. Kevin Kelly and Rep. Vincent Candelora.

“Before I spend those resources, the feds are stepping up, giving us an extra $20 million, buys us some time. At least we can see what the winter weather is looking like. If we have to do more, we will do more,” said Governor Ned Lamont.

Working with clients, Conyers said more might be necessary.

“We just need more money, just to be able to help more families, to get through the winter and not have them be afraid of whether they need to pay for oil or pay for groceries,” said Conyers.

To apply you can do it online here, or reach out to the local community action agency that helps administer the program.