High heating costs lead more to seek help | News

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PEABODY — More people are asking for help to pay their home heating costs as energy prices continue to rise, according to a local agency.

North Shore Community Action Programs said applications for its fuel assistance program are up 20% this year. The agency has received more than 3,200 applications, and requests are “still coming in daily,” said Dan DeAngelis, NSCAP’s fuel assistance director.

“This year seems like it’s an even greater burden for folks,” DeAngelis said. “It’s more important than ever.”

NSCAP, which is based in Peabody, administers the federally funded Home Energy Assistance program. Renters and homeowners who qualify can receive a benefit of up to $1,100 that is paid directly to their vendor whether they heat with oil, propane, natural gas or electricity, or even if heat is included in the cost of rent.

NSCAP will continue to accept applications until April 30. Eligibility is based on income. The maximum income for a four-person household, for example, is $78,751.

DeAngelis said NSCAP has more than $2.5 million available in the program this year and urged people to continue to apply. “I don’t think we’re in a position where the money will run out,” he said. “We are definitely fully funded for this year.”

Oil prices have hit their highest level in years, with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine raising concerns over limited supplies. DeAngelis said the higher prices are arriving as many pandemic assistance programs are coming to an end.

The state recently extended its moratorium prohibiting gas companies from shutting off service until April 1, but that deadline is approaching fast.

“Last year there were a lot of protections in place,” DeAngelis said. “There was stimulus money to help people pay their bills. Now that those monies are running out it’s become crunch time for a lot of people.”

Anyone interested in applying can call NSCAP’s Fuel Assistance Info Line at 978-531-8810 to learn about income guidelines and to schedule an appointment. Information is also available at https://www.nscap.org/our-programs/home-energy-assistance/.

Staff Writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2535, by email at pleighton@salemnews.com, or on Twitter at @heardinbeverly.

Staff Writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2535, by email at pleighton@salemnews.com, or on Twitter at @heardinbeverly.

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