The partial government shutdown could mean people who rely on home heating assistance could be left in the cold. Agencies that provide assistance and rely on federal funding have already shut down in some parts of western Massachusetts.
Valley Opportunity Council in Greenfield already stopped taking applications, according to Director of Energy Programs Peter Wingate. Tuesday, he said the doors were locked and his office was not taking phone calls or appointments. Their office serves Franklin and Hampshire Counties. Last year the organization provided heating assistance for more than 14,000 people.
In Springfield, the New England Farm Workers Council on Main St. was still accepting applications Tuesday. Emergency Program Coordinator, Lisa A. Gilhooly said it was imperative for people to get their applications in soon. They were still operating with a full staff and trying to process applications already submitted. She said they were taking the shutdown day by day, but would have to make a decision by Oct. 18 if there was no resolution in Washington.
The Valley Opportunity Council on High St. in Holyoke was also accepting applications for assistance. Their service area covered Hampden County with the exception of Springfield. Energy program director Gail Pisacane said if the federal government doesn't approve the funds by Nov. 1, none of their clients would be getting assistance. Pisacane also said there were not many other options for people looking for help. There are private organizations in some communities, but their resources were limited and there wouldn't be enough help for everyone who needs it.
In all, more than 30,000 households in western Massachusetts could be without heating assistance.
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