By Adalia Woodbury
November 1, 2011
States are anticipating a difficult winter as they make plans for the their respective heating assistance programs. It looks like another very hard winter for Americans who are already suffering from the harsh effects of the recession.
With high unemployment and increased poverty, there is an increased demand for this heating assistance programs. Many of the people who will feel the effects are senior citizens.
Last year, this program helped a quarter of a million families in Georgia heat their homes.
Nancy Smith with the Middle Georgia Community Action Agency says she’s hoping for a warm winter.
The combination of heating costs increasing by 40% last year and an unemployment rate of 10%, this is going to be a very harsh winter for struggling Americans in Pennsylvania.
If you spend a little time on Google, story after story conveys the same message. Unemployment is up heating costs are up. Demand for assistance is also up. However, eligibility will be more stringent since the program is expected to be cut by half. In Oregon, a household’s income must be 60% of the state’s median income to qualify for the program.
If this was simply a matter of skipping the world cruise, or buying one less Mercedes, one could understand and applaud this sort of cut. However, it like other cuts in government programs are directed at the same people who are suffering the most, with the least resources. Cutting expenses means going without food, or medicine. These are hardly extraneous expenses, unless you live in a Dickens novel or in the United States in 2011.
For people in this situation, cutting expenses means more children going hungry more often. As it stands, 42% of American children live in low income households. That means, below the national poverty threshold. According to the AARP, 16% of seniors are living in poverty as a directly result of the recession.
Government cuts to home heating programs are a result of previous cuts to the program at the Federal level. In the name of accommodating the GOP whose are convinced that if someone is poor and freezing it’s their own fault. Meanwhile, we hear stories about Republican congressman “struggling” to live on $400,000 a year or how the rich would suffer great hardship if they had to endure a tax increase. At least they would be enduring it in a heated home.