Low-income residents who rely on federal assistance to keep the heat on may be in for a rough winter. Because the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’s allotment for heating assistance has plunged to $1.7 billion this year from $4.5 billion last year, thousands of homes may not be able to keep the heat on.
MSNBC reports 7.7 million households relied on the aid in 2009, when funding was much higher at $5 billion. Prospects could still improve for those who are at risk, because Congress is working on spending bill appropriations. But if no additional funding is approved, households that find it tough to pay utility bills will feel the crunch.
As is often the case in welfare situations, those who are poor but aren’t quite poor enough will suffer the most. Some measure of aid is expected to continue going to four-person families that make less than $3,674 monthly. Those who make more than than may want to use the “extra” money to stock up on sweaters and blankets.