It’s been a long winter, and a very difficult one financially when it comes to heating costs. And as News Source 8′s Angela Christoforos reports; with the rising costs of energy, many people depend on emergency funding through programs like LIHEAP to survive the brutal cold.
It’s been a long, cold winter. For people like Gene Brooker and his wife Darcy; these months are the hardest time of the year. They’re both living on a fixed income and disabled. Darcy is prone to hypothermia. Adequate heating is not just a want, it’s an absolute necessity.
Limestone residents Gene and Darcy Brooker said, “We have bills you know rent, lot rent, by the time we pay that we have nothing left. And we rely on LIHEAP to be able to keep us going.”
This family is just one of many that depend on LIHEAP, the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program to afford the costs of heating through the winter.
ACAP Senior Manager Susan Deschene said, “In January in one morning when we were offering emergency fuel for that day we had 48 hundred phone calls in two hours.”
Kerosene prices have shot up to over 4 dollars a gallon and it takes about 100 gallons a month to heat the Brooker’s home. Here in the County, cold temperatures start as early as November and can last into April; which means at least 5 months of high heating costs.
“Even with the 400 dollars the people are getting through emergency funding and the benefit itself it’s not going as far as it should,” said Deschene.
Gene and his wife use a furnace to heat their home, but with the brutal cold just a furnace alone isn’t enough. They’ve also had to rely on electric heaters to keep their home warm.
” We’ve burnt more fuel this year than we did in the past year. A lot more fuel cause last year we probably used about 250-300 gallons. This year we’ve used almost 5, and the winter ain’t over with yet,” said Gene and Darcy.
While Gene and Darcy qualify for LIHEAP assistance, there are also people who don’t qualify who still struggle to afford the rising costs of heating.
LIHEAP Emergency Funding will be discontinued by March 31st, and the Senior Manager of ACAP tells us that she’s noticed a trend this winter- more and more young families have been applying for the assistance.