From the Springfield Republican:
With fuel aid benefits nearly 35 percent lower than last winter and heating oil prices nearly 30 percent higher, the tens of thousands of people in the Pioneer Valley who are relying on the assistance in this particularly cold winter are getting squeezed.“Some people are getting very desperate, and they don’t know where to turn,” said Gail D. Pisacane, head of the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP, for the Valley Opportunity Council. The council serves residents of Hampden County outside of Springfield.
“We’ve had more than 15,600 applications this year,” said Pisacane. “I’m surprised because we saw such a huge increase in applications last year that I didn’t think it would be dramatically more this year. But, given the economy, I guess you shouldn’t be surprised at any of it.”
At this time last year, the council had received about 12,500 applications, up from about 10,000 applications by January 2008.