As record low temps continue, local lawmaker pushes for heating - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

As record low temps continue, local lawmaker pushes for heating assistance

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Western Mass Congressman Richard Neal signed a bipartisan letter to the President on Wednesday asking that more money be allowed for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP.

As Western Mass continued to deal with record low temperatures these past several days, many low income families are struggling to stay warm, including Nancy Parsons.

"We get by, so far. I don't know, this is going to be a tough year," she said. 

Every winter Parsons worries about the tough weather ahead.

Her mobile home at Pine Valley Plantation in Belchertown is chilly and even though she gets heating assistance through a program called Community Action, she can't waste the oil.

"Hopefully what I have in my tank will last me at least to the end of this month, maybe into next month."

Like 40 percent of the people on low income heating assistance, Parsons is a senior citizen, living on a tight income. Her husband passed away 10 years ago and that's when heating her home got to be almost impossible.

"It's tough because you can't, there's not much you can do," she said. 

Now lawmakers including Rep. Neal are urging the president to allow for nearly $5 billion in his 2015 budget for LIHEAP after it has been dramatically cut back.

"There is no good reason why anyone in Massachusetts should be living in a cold house during the winter months. And I don't believe people should have to choose between feeding their families or heating their homes," Neal said in a statement. 

Nancy got $715 to heat her home for the entire winter. She's happy to have the assistance, but wonders how far it can go.

Last year she barely made it through the cold temperatures.

"I did get through, I don't know how, but I did."

Parsons says sometimes the heating program she's on has some extra money to give out.

But she says that she's hearing that won't be the case this year.

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