ELLSWORTH — With the winter barely started, the Washington Hancock Community Agency (WHCA) already has run out of fuel assistance money three times, according to the agency.
The shortage made a $69,358 home heating aid gift from the Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation, The Lerner Foundation and Zone Radio especially timely.
“What a difference this has made for us,” Susan Farley, a Community & Family Services family assistance advocate, said at a news conference Jan. 10. “Many, many of these people who need help are applying for the first time.”
She said families in need are trying to conserve heat by closing off rooms, turning down the heat to an uncomfortable temperature and moving in together.
WHCA Development Director Joe Perkins said he estimates 200 families will be helped with the private assistance, which was triggered by news that Maine will receive nearly $18 million less in federal assistance to the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).
“This is a disaster,” Eliot Cutler, president of the Lerner Foundation, said of the reductions by Congress. “It’s a long winter and it hasn’t really started.”