Northeast Cuts Heating Aid for Poor
Thousands could suffer
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 11, 2011 10:02 AM CST
In this Jan. 2, 2008, file photo, heating oil is delivered to a home in Barre, Vt.   (AP Photo/Toby Talbot, File)

(Newser) – Thousands of people in the Northeast could be left in the cold this winter, as the federal government cuts heating aid to the poor. Congress is considering cutting more than $1 billion from last year's $4.7 billion Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program budget, which helped almost 9 million households, and some Northeast states have already cut heating aid benefits as a result. New England is expected to be the hardest hit since expensive oil heat is widely used during the cold winters.

"They're playing Russian roulette with people's lives," an activist tells the AP. Mary Power, a 92-year-old widow who worked until she was 80, lives in a trailer on $11,148 per year and likely won't be able to afford all the heating oil she needs when her aid drops from $1,035 to $685. She plans to turn her thermostat down to 60 degrees to save on oil costs, and says, "I will just have to crawl into bed with the covers over me and stay there. I will do what I have to do."