State Fuel Assistance-
Massachusetts Fuel Assistance
The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is funded by the Federal government to help low-income families and individuals pay their heating bills during the winter. This program provides assistance through a fixed benefit amount to cover the cost of a primary source of heat, including heating oil, electricity, natural gas, propane, kerosene, wood, and coal. Homeowners and renters are both eligible, and special provisions are made for those households whose heat is included in their rent and those living in subsidized housing.
This winter, the Federal government is providing approximately $213 million in LIHEAP funds to Massachusetts. These funds are administered by the state Department of Housing and Community Development and distributed to local community action agencies.
To locate the community action agency nearest you and to find out if you are eligible to receive LIHEAP fuel assistance funds, Click here, or call the DHCD Heat Hotline at 1-800-632-8175.
Energy Bucks is a unique program that aids Massachusetts residents with energy costs. With the help from its sponsors, including NStar, National Grid, Bay State Gas, state agencies, and local community action programs, Energy Bucks provides fuel assistance, utility discount rates, and energy efficiency services to low-income individuals and families in need.
Contact Information: For more information on Energy Bucks, please visit its website.
Massachusetts Good Neighbor Energy Fund
This program is available to any Massachusetts resident who, because of temporary financial difficulty, cannot meet a month's energy expense and is not eligible for state or federal energy assistance. Income for either the prior twelve months or the past month (times 12 months for a total annual figure) must be within 200-275 percent of the Federal Poverty Income Guidelines.
Contact Information: Call the Salvation Army at 800-334-3047, or their website
Other Community Action Agencies
For a complete listing of community action agencies in Massachusetts, go to their website.
Energy Efficiency Programs-
MassSAVE is a year-round energy efficiency program aimed at reducing energy costs, improving home performance, creating a healthier environment, and improving comfort. It is available to all Massachusetts residents, whether they rent or own their home. MassSAVE offers energy tips, information about free home energy assessments, energy-saving products, loans, rebates, and other incentives for energy-saving home improvements.
Contact Information: Please call 1-866-527-7283 for more information or visit the MassSAVE website.
HEAT Loan Program
The HEAT Loan Program provides customers with no-interest and low-interest loans (up to 3%) to assist customers with the installation of qualified energy efficient improvements in their homes. The loans of up to $15,000 are available, with terms of up to 7 years. To apply for the loan, the customer must own and reside in a one to four family residence and obtain a Home Energy Assessment through the MassSAVE Program.
Contact Information: Go to their website, to view the list of participating lendors to find a lender near you.
Home Energy Assessments
No-cost home energy assessment are available through participating utilities, such as NSTAR and Keyspan. Some homeowners may be eligible for rebates up to $1,500 to complete recommended energy efficiency measures.
Contact Information: Contact your local utility to see if it offers home energy assessments, call 1-800-632-8300.
Weatherization Assistance Program
The Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) is designed to assist low-income households in reducing their heating bills by providing home energy efficiency services. The program is administered by a network of local agencies, in many areas the same agency that administers LIHEAP fuel assistance funds. An average grant of $1,600 in weatherization funds is awarded for each home for installed energy efficiency measures.
Typical work completed includes air sealing, attic and/or sidewall insulation, weather stripping, and minor repairs associated with the weatherization work. Homes also receive a thorough evaluation of the heating system, as well as health and safety testing of all combustion appliances. Local licensed and insured weatherization contractors complete the work at no cost to participating residents. The local agency inspects all completed work to be certain that the authorized work was done in a satisfactory manner.
Contact Information: For additional information, please call the HEATLINE at 1-800-632-8175.
Heating Emergency Assistance Retrofit Task Weatherization Assistance Program
The Heating Emergency Assistance Retrofit Task Weatherization Assistance Program (HEARTWAP) provides heating system repair and replacement services to low-income households year-round. This program is administered by a network of local agencies, in most areas the same agency that administers LIHEAP fuel assistance funds.
Throughout the heating season, HEARTWAP primarily is an emergency-based heating system repair program that helps eligible homeowners pay to repair or replace defective or unsafe heating systems. If sufficient funds are available after the heating season, HEARTWAP will complete maintenance work (clean and tunes) and replace heating systems that are in poor condition and not worth repairing.
Contact Information: For additional information, please call the HEATLINE at 1-800-632-8175.
ENERGY STAR Home Program
The ENERGY STAR Home Program provides assistance to Massachusetts residents who are either building a new home or are considering a major renovation of an existing home. This program provides technical assistance and incentives to make a home 15% or more efficient than the efficiency standard of the Massachusetts building code. An official ENERGY STAR certification is part of the program at no charge.
Contact Information: Call 1-800-628-8413 or visit their website.
Utility Discount Rates
Massachusetts utilities charge lower rates to low-income customers for gas, electricity, and telephone service. Massachusetts law requires regulated utility companies to offer discounted rates to customers who receive public assistance benefits and meet income limits. Customers with low-income rates get the same level of service as customers paying the standard rate.
Contact Information: For additional information on utility discount rates, please visit their website.
Many utilities offer rebates for various energy efficient products and services. A few examples are listed below.
Gas Networks is a collaborative consisting of local gas companies (Bay State Gas, Berkshire Gas, National Grid, New England Gas, Northern Utilities, NSTAR, and Unitil) whose mission is to work with governmental agencies and affiliates to promote energy-efficient technologies, create common efficiency programs, educate consumers, and promote contractor training and awareness of ever-changing natural gas technologies. By working with these companies, Gas Networks is able to provide various rebates, including discounts on water heaters, furnaces, and ENERGY STAR windows and thermostats, for customers receiving services from the participating utility companies.
Contact Information: For more information on the rebates offered, please call 1-800-232-0672, or visit its website.
National Grid Electric
National Grid offers rebates on energy efficient products for their customers.
Contact Information: Please visit National Grid's website.
Other Assistance Programs-
To simplify the process of finding help, United Way and MAIRS launched Mass 2-1-1, a free hotline for finding government benefits and services, non-profit organizations, support groups, volunteer opportunities, donation programs, and other local resources. This easy-to-remember number creates a connection between individuals and families seeking services to the appropriate community based organizations and government agencies, while simultaneously creating a one-stop number for vital information.
In order to take advantage of this service, dial 2-1-1 on your telephone.
Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance
The Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance is a state agency responsible for administering public assistance programs for needy citizens of the Commonwealth. It provides information on how to apply for Food Stamps, cash assistance programs, and gives new resources available for individuals seeking employment.
Contact Information: Please call the Department of Transitional Assistance at 617-348-8500 for more information, or visit its website.
Boston Resource Network-
Boston Resource Network is a handy tool available that offers access to information about various human services available in Massachusetts. For example, this website provides resources for individuals seeking employment services, housing services, food assistance, skills training, and health care, among many other services.
Contact Information: For further information, please visit its website.
SNAP Food Stamps
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) helps low-income households pay for food so they can have a healthy diet and still have money to pay other bills. SNAP food stamps are for U.S. citizens and eligible noncitizens with limited incomes that buy food and make meals at home. People living in homeless shelters, group homes for people with disabilities, drug and alcohol treatment centers, and subsidized elderly housing are also eligible. In 2007, the average monthly food stamps benefit in Massachusetts was about $86 per person or $164 per household.
Contact Information: For more information and an application, please call 1-866-950-3663, or visit its website.
Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
WIC is a food and nutrition program for low-income women and children who are not getting all the nutrients they need. WIC provides free healthy food and nutrition counseling to pregnant women, new mothers, infants, and young children.
Contact Information: For additional information on WIC, please call 1-800-942-1007, or visit WIC’s website.
Food Pantries and Free Meals
Food pantries are places where people in need can go to get free wholesome uncooked food to take home with them to prepare. Free meals programs, such as soup kitchens, are places where people can go to eat cooked meals free of charge. There is no need to apply for these meals, they are offered free of charge.
The Project Bread FoodSource Hotline, 1-800-645-8333, has information on all the Massachusetts food pantries and free meals programs.
Meals on Wheels and Dining Centers
Meals on Wheels are prepared meals that are delivered to homebound seniors age 60 or older. Dining Centers are places where seniors can eat lunch together, meet with friends, enjoy activities, and find out about services and programs. These programs are only available to seniors aged 60 and older; however, there are no income limits.
Contact Information: For information on these programs, please call 1-800-882-2003 or click here.
Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless
Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless (MCH) works to address the broad economic and social issues that lead to homelessness. MCH helps homeless individuals and families, as well as women who are living in a domestically violent household, with placement in a shelter. The coalition also provides information on long-term housing solutions and preventative steps for future homelessness.
Contact Information: Please call MCH at 781-595-7570 for more information, or visit its website.
Homeownership programs help low and moderate-income homebuyers buy and repair single and multi-family homes. Eligible homebuyers can get low interest mortgage loans, down payment and closing costs assistance, government mortgage payments, and mortgage insurance.
Many homeownership programs are for first-time homebuyers and families must usually meet income requirements, buy a house within certain price limits, plan to live in the house they buy, and be able to afford their monthly housing and other expenses.
Please visit this website for a list of homeownership programs.
Tenant-based vouchers, such as Section 8, MRVP, and AHVP, are rent vouchers that let people choose their own housing anywhere they want to live. If a family moves, the rent assistance moves with them. In order to be eligible for the voucher, a family must have an income below the limits of this program.
Contact Information: Please call 1-800-224-5124, or visit the Department of Housing and Community Development’s website for more information on tenant-based vouchers.
Supportive Housing and Long Term Care
There are many housing choices for Massachusetts residents who cannot live safely on their own. These include Adult Foster Care, assisted living, congregate housing, Group Adult Foster Care, HIV/AIDS housing, and nursing homes.
Contact Information: For more information on the programs available, please visit this website.
One-Stop Career Centers
One-Stop Career Centers are state-funded job centers that help workers find jobs and help employers find workers. These centers provide access to a variety of job assistance services, including working with experienced career counselors, attending workshops and short-term training, accessing up-to-date local, statewide and national job listings, using a PC to hunt for jobs, develop your resume, write cover letters, and more. Most services are free and open to anyone.
Contact Information: Please call the Division of Career Services at 617-626-5300 for more information, or click here to find a Career Center.
Unemployment insurance is a government program that gives temporary cash payments to workers who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own. An individual is not eligible for this benefit if they were fired from their job for a good reason, or if they quit their job. In Massachusetts, this program is run by the Division of Unemployment Assistance (DUA). Usually the cash payments last for a maximum of 30 weeks; however, at times, the federal government offers an extension of these benefits to a maximum of 46 weeks.
Contact Information: The DUA website provides more information about unemployment insurance and how to apply, or please call 1-888-527-1912.
YouthWorks Job Program
YouthWorks is a state-funded summer and year-round job program for Massachusetts low-income youth between the ages of 14 and 21 years old. One of the goals of this program is to lower the juvenile delinquency rate in Massachusetts by providing at-risk youth with employment. Youths will receive an hourly wage, which is at least the minimum wage, referrals to other programs and support services, as well as stability and structure in their lives.
Contact Information: Please call Youthworks for more information and an application at 1-866-968-8461, or click here.