Need for heating assistance continues to increase

Few will argue, this winter has been relentless and it's not only taken a toll on our psyches, but our wallets too.

The cost of heating our homes has been as brutal as the cold, and with heating oil averaging $4 a gallon right now, for many it's out of reach.

NBC 10 talked to Anthony Maione, of United Way of Rhode Island, he discussed the need for assistance "we continue to be a high unemployment state, and now extended unemployment benefits have ended, we have more people coming in, in need of aid."

United Way's 211 help line took in more than 8,000 calls for heating help in January alone, up from last year.

This mild weather is a welcome relief, but with more bitter cold in our forecast rest assured winter is far from over.

Which is why the United Way is grateful for the Amica Challenge; the company will match up to $25,000 of every dollar donated to the agency.

The money is much needed this winter.

Joanne McGunagle, the executive director of Comprehensive Community Action program in Cranston (CCAP), which administers grants from the Low Income Heating Assistance Program says they're seeing more families that just miss the cut off, making too much to qualify. She told NBC 10 "we've denied 60 households so far for being over income by maybe a few hundred dollars, there are people who need these funds United Way could provide."

Consider this, so far this winter CCAP has seen more than 2700 calls for heating help; they saw 2800 all of last year.

And the state has gotten less Low Income Heating Assistance Program funding this year, and as McGunagle pointed out "less resources, more people, harsh winter, perfect storm."

Yet another storm, we just don't need to see this year.