Washington, D.C. — About 7.3 million households are expected to get fuel aid this winter, according to a survey released Monday by the National Energy Assistance Directors’ Association, which represents state-run low-income energy assistance programs.
That’s nearly 1.5 million more households than last winter, a 25 percent increase. It’s also about 800,000 more households than the previous high in 1985, the group said.
“Many of these families live paycheck to paycheck,” said Mark Wolfe, the group’s executive director. “They might have been middle class last week before they lost their jobs, but now they’re not. These are record numbers of people.”
A lot of those seeking help have lost jobs or are struggling to pay bills amid the nation’s economic crisis. Others are struggling to keep up with heating costs that have risen dramatically over the past several years.
With its cold winters and reliance on oil heat, the Northeast is particularly vulnerable to high energy costs. Northeast states are expected to have double-digit increases in households getting aid.