MAINEHOUSING ISSUES $11 MILLION IN EARLY HEATING ASSISTANCE HELP
TRANSFER OF FUNDS HAS ALLOWED THE STATE’S HOUSING FINANCE AUTHORITY TO PROVIDE THE FUNDING TO ELIGIBLE HOMES NEARLY A MONTH EARLY
AUGUSTA – MaineHousing Thursday announced it has released $11 million in Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) benefits.
This funding is being released nearly a month ahead of the typical HEAP schedule allowing fuel vendors across the state to deliver heating assistance quickly to 10,814 eligible households including nearly 17,000 people.
This first round of funding administered, in collaboration with Maine’s community action agencies, prioritized households with members aged 65 or older with more than 7,200 households in that category being served.
To achieve this MaineHousing was able to advance $10.5 million of funding enabling the early payment of benefits to our fellow Mainers.
This allowed HEAP benefit payments to begin a month before the agency receives its actual HEAP funding allocation from the Federal government.
These funds have been transferred to the qualified heating fuel vendors and recipient households will soon be seeing letters notifying them of their benefit amount.
For the 2022-2023 heating season, based on income and heating needs, most eligible households will receive a benefit amount of between $800 to $1,100.
Thursday the statewide average price of No. 2 heating oil, the most commonly used type of heating fuel in Maine was $5.43 a gallon, according to the Governor’s Energy Office.
MaineHousing was able to make this early release of benefits by using discretionary funds that have been committed to multi-family construction projects, where the cash will not be needed until December, or later. The agency will then repay these funds to its multi-family program when it receives its federal HEAP funding, expected later in November.
“The decision to move these funds and release them in the HEAP program to vendors means as temperatures begin to drop some of our most vulnerable neighbors will have heating fuel in their tanks,” said MaineHousing Director Daniel Brennan. “We know staying warm this coming winter will be a challenge for many households and by releasing these funds early we are hoping to alleviate at least one worry for them while we await additional heating help from our federal government. While this payment will help, MaineHousing remains deeply concerned about the current price of heating fuels especially kerosene and No. 2 heating oil.”
Charlie Summers, President of the Maine Energy Marketers Association, which represents more than 300 heating fuel vendors in Maine, also welcomed the early delivery of funding for HEAP.
“I’m confident that this will be welcome news for Mainers on fixed-incomes across the state,” Summers said, “as well as and fuel retailers who have been working tirelessly to ensure all who they serve have the heating fuels they need this winter season. As we navigate our way through these challenging times, the men and women of the Maine Energy Marketers Association remain steadfast in their commitment to provide the citizens of Maine with safe, reliable, liquid heating fuels.”
Maine Gov. Janet Mills said the early funding was a positive devleopment for those worried about heating their homes this winter and vowed to continue to help as well.
“My Administration will continue to help Maine people deal with high costs for home heating,” Gov. Mills said. “This step by MaineHousing will help thousands of Maine people, most of which are seniors, to fill their tanks now before colder weather sets in. I thank MaineHousing and the community action agencies for taking this step now, and we will continue to support Maine people this winter.”
MaineHousing each winter distributes approximately $40 million in HEAP benefits to nearly 40,000 households and more than 60,000 people.
A downloadable home heating guide from the Governor’s Energy Office is availabe online and can be found at: www.maine.gov/energy/winter-heating-resources
A full list of housing and energy programs available to help Maine people can be found on the MaineHousing’s website at: www.mainehousing.org
MaineHousing has helped Maine people own, rent, repair, and heat their homes since 1969. MaineHousing is an independent state authority created to address the problems of unsafe, unsuitable, overcrowded, and unaffordable housing. MaineHousing is a $2.1 billion financial institution with a staff of 190 people. MaineHousing assists more than 90,000 Maine households and invests more than $300 million in the Maine economy each year.
FOR MORE INFO CONTACT: SCOTT THISTLE