I am the treasurer for our local interfaith organization. Our major mission is an emergency fuel fund. We provide families a one-time 100-gallon delivery of fuel oil in the winter. They get this oil after they have exhausted other fuel oil sources: the low income emergency fuel assistance provided by the federal government’s LIHEAP program, Joe’s Oil, and the Good Neighbor Program.
Back in September I purchased 2000 gallons of heating oil. Today I got a call from our intake person at the Salvation Army. She said that she got two requests for oil and that they already went through their LIHEAP oil. Joe’s Oil, which typically takes applications on December 1 will not take applications until January or February and even then there is a four-week wait for oil delivery. The Good Neighbor Program will not start until February.
It’s cold. We can’t have people wait. I authorized opening our oil supply.
But 100 gallons of fuel oil lasts only three weeks or so. Since the other programs aren’t even ready to run and won’t be able to deliver any oil until February at the earliest, people who receive oil from us this week will be out of oil by early January.
If people have exhausted their LIHEAP oil and the fuel assistance the we provide, they will probably have no heat or hot water in January because there is no other source for emergency fuel oil in the community that I know of right now.
This is bleak. We limit one delivery per household each season because we want to cover as many households as we can. We can never cover all the households that need emergency fuel oil.
I notified the other downtown churches to expect people to start asking them for fuel assistance beginning in January.
Words cannot begin to express how angry I feel. This is not right on so many levels. While I have been unable to provide assistance to people who seek help from the church, this one feels especially distressing because on some level I feel that this situation is unnecessary. Congress didn’t have to cut fuel assistance. Many people who apply for aid have work, but they don’t earn enough because wages are too low or they only have part-time work (at low wage).
If there is a way to feel extra helpless, that’s me right now.