Already officials at the Charlestown APAC office and its parent company Boston ABCD are concerned that a heating crisis is on the horizon if the federal government does not fully fund the federal fuel assistance program that helps thousands of Charlestown residents heat their homes during the harsh winter months.
APAC already kicked off its fuel assistance program and one month into the program dozens have applied and hundreds more are expected.
This, coupled with the rising cost of fuel has ABCD CEO John Drew worried.
With the average Charlestown household needing 4-5 tanks of oil to get through the winter, people who use oil could be running on empty as we get further into the winter. Drew said with home heating oil hovering around $4 per gallon all of APAC and ABCD’s fuel assistance customers could use up their benefits for oil early. However, the good news is that APAC takes applications until the end of April and if you qualify for fuel assistance they will reimburse you back to November 1. So the office is encouraging people to make an appointment to fill out an application.
While the government has released the first round of fuel assistance moneys and APAC has begun filling oil tanks in Charlestown, the program has not been fully funded.
Drew said that at APAC and ABCD thousands are calling every day for help with food, heat, housing, child care and other issues.
“People are scared,” he said. “They know that the programs they depend on to stay alive, to keep their children warm, housed and fed, often rely on federal funds. We are doing our best to meet needs, but without federal funds we can’t authorize oil trucks to deliver fuel to seniors sitting home with an empty tank. We can’t keep the Head Start program for low-income children open much longer or fund the neighborhood programs that run food pantries and provide housing assistance and job development.”
Drew pointed out that several fuel assistance and Head Start programs across the state have had to shut down already because of budget stalemates.
“We beg Congress to do its job. A minority in the House are putting our elderly, children and families at terrible risk,” said Drew. “They don’t deserve this treatment from their government.”
Drew asked public to support its Winter Emergency Campaign, kicking off early this year to try to fill gap in needs and make it possible to provide heating assistance and warm clothing, boots, blankets and food to those in emergency situations.”Last year generous donors gave thousands of new, warm items of winter clothing and cash donations that provided emergency fuel assistance and food deliveries.
“The poor among us, those who depend on heating assistance, food pantries, child care, housing services are feeling increasing pain as impasses in Washington, D.C. continue,” said Drew.
While Drew is again fighting for more funding with the belief that just enough is too little, he is encouraging those who think they may qualify for fuel assistance for the 2013-2014 winter season to call APAC at the John F Kennedy Center in Charlestown at 617-241-8866
The Kennedy Center is located at 23A Moulton Street Charlestown, MA 02129.