States Prepare for Home Heating Crisis

With home heating costs rising, jobless rates up and temperatures dropping, states are bracing for a widespread public health emergency this winter.
Even if they get a boost in federal aid to help low-income citizens pay their home energy bills, state officials say that a record number of poor people will be at risk of suffering hunger and hypothermia and that many will need temporary shelter.
The situation is expected to be most severe in cold northeastern states where more people rely on home heating oil, which has risen in price much faster than other energy sources. Governors in those states warned President Bush in an August letter that without more federal money, “an unprecedented crisis is waiting to unfold.”
Since then, the economy has worsened and energy costs have remained high.
“With a record number of families already struggling to pay their home energy bills, states are seeking more federal money to cover the rising cost of fuel this winter,” said Mark Wolfe, director of National Energy Assistance Directors' Association (NEADA), which represents state officials.

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