Sun Chronicle: While the winter may be over, sky-high home heating oil prices continue to plague many area residents on tight budgets.
Cool days and cold nights this spring and the need for hot water year-round mean thermostats remain on and oil tanks can’t be allowed to drain dry once the seasons change.
Home heating oil costs the past week have spiked to over $6 a gallon — double the price of a year ago.
At least one area fuel business is making deliveries of half an oil tank instead of the usual full tank.
“I get them all the time,” state Rep. Jim Hawkins, D-Attleboro, said of calls for fuel help. “They are not isolated. They usually also have issues with rent, food. It’s hardly only one issue.
“I’ve heard some horror stories what people are paying (for heating). Some people are really suffering. It’s really horrifying what some people are going through.”
The legislator typically refers callers to area agencies, including Self-Help and the Attleboro Area Interfaith Collaborative.
“People are in a real squeeze in the community,” Hawkins said.
The state Legislature has allocated more money for fuel assistance this year, he noted.
Area human service and senior center staff are also fielding requests for heating fuel help, though some say they haven’t seen a significant rise in recent weeks.
“We have seen an uptick in requests for assistance for oil and electric from last year but not really out of the ordinary,” said AnneMarie Fleming, health director/public health nurse in North Attleboro. “We always see the majority of requests for oil in October and May after the protections are lifted.” more