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Where to Turn for Heating Assistance

United Way of Southeastern Connecticut hosted a group of heating assistance providers on November 28 as the season of colder temperatures and increased demand for energy assistance begins in the region. Representatives from local fuels banks were present, along with Thames Valley Council for Community Action's (TVCCA) CT Energy Assistance Program and Operation Fuel.

The workshop was held to ensure that service providers are aware of the resources available to residents in their town and where they should turn to for help. Guidelines, procedures, and eligibility requirements for all heating assistance programs were shared with the group.

"We were more than happy to participate in the gathering of heating assistance providers brought together by United Way," says Brenda Watson, MA, Director of Community Programs at Operation Fuel. "When United Way convenes a group like this, it allows us with the opportunity to not only share the guidelines and requirements for our program, but to learn what others are doing in the community. By working together, we all can operate so much more efficiently. Care providers in Connecticut have truly rallied together to share resources and information in response to the recession and Super Storm Sandy, especially around helping people meet their home heating needs."

"One thing United Way does best is to bring people together," agreed Virginia L. Mason, President & CEO of United Way of Southeastern Connecticut. "By gathering this group in one room, we learn from each other, we are all on the same page, and most importantly, we work in unison to ensure that no one falls through the cracks."

If you or someone you know in Southeastern Connecticut is seeking energy assistance, the first place to turn is TVCCA. The program received approximately $11.3 million to assist low-income households who need help heating their homes. The amount of assistance depends on income. To make an appointment, contact TVCCA at (860) 425-6681 or go through your town’s social service agency.

During struggling economies, funds for energy assistance can, unfortunately, run out. In this case, individuals should contact United Way 2-1-1 to find the best resources for heating assistance which may include Operation Fuel or United Way’s Project Warm-Up. Anyone in need of assistance through either program must work through their local fuel bank. 2-1-1 is a free call from anywhere in the state and caseworkers are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Project Warm-Up is meant as a last resort when all other means of assistance have been exhausted. It is intended for those experiencing a short-term crisis and fall between the guidelines of other local, state, and federal programs such as TVCCA and Operation Fuel. Other sources of heating assistance vary according to town and individual circumstances, but several do exist. By contacting 2-1-1, individuals will find the best options for their town and circumstance.

Since 1992, Project Warm-Up has been helping people with home heating needs. It is funded in part by the Community Foundation of Southeastern Connecticut, the Frank Loomis Palmer Fund; Bank of America, Trustee, and the Bodenwein Public Benevolent Foundation; Bank of America, Trustee.