WAMC News
12:20 pm
Thu October 25, 2012

Vermont Seeks Additional Heating Assistance

Vermont’s governor is requesting additional funding to a low income heating program at the same time they are changing how benefits are paid.

The federal government has allocated just over 19-and-a-half million dollars to Vermont for this year’s Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.  Governor Shumlin said he will go before the Legislature's Emergency Board next week to ask for approval  to add $8.8 million in state funds to the program. Central Vermont Council on Aging Executive Director Beth Stern.

Central Vermont Community Action Council Executive Director Hal Cohen.

Central Vermont Council on Aging Executive Director Beth Stern says the state is already seeing an increased need for fuel assistance compared to  last year.

The state also has an assistance program for those who heat with wood and they’re changing the way benefit payments are distributed. Rather than sending the money directly to firewood dealers, the state will put the money in the electronic benefit cards of the people seeking assistance. Low Income Advocate Tim Searles says the state is simply going back to a previous system.

Despite the adjustments in heating assistance, Beth Stern says there is still a risk that some Vermonters will be cold this winter.

The state helps about 1,700 people who heat with wood. More than 28,000 low-income Vermont households rely on fuel assistance. Heating oil is expected to cost 13 cents a gallon more than last year.