Maine may see demand for heating aid this winter increase as much as 6 percent, while less aid will be available.
In this Dec. 16, 2021, file photo, Daniel DiDonato, a deliveryman for Heatable, brings heating oil to a home in Lewiston. Credit: Robert F. Bukaty / AP

Low-income Mainers benefited from an extra $63 million for state and federal heating assistance last winter. But Maine State Housing Authority Director Daniel Brennan is warning not to expect as much help this year.

He told commissioners Tuesday that he expects up to 6 percent more people might need help paying for heating bills this year. But Brennan said the housing authority is likely to only have $40 million to assist them. That amount is based on Maine’s typical allocation, which is determined in November.

“And if we can accommodate that, which is very realistic with the money we have, the benefit is going to be about half of what it used to be, it’s gonna be about $500, $600,” he said. “Now oil prices are down a little bit. But still, that’s going to be kind of a hit.”

Brennan said the authority plans to ask the state and the congressional delegation to help secure more funding. A housing authority spokesperson said funds from the program last for 18 months, so recipients may still have some money left over at the beginning of the season.

The extra $63 million came from an emergency bill passed by the Legislature at the beginning of the session. About $40 million extra went to the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, while another $10 million went to Maine Community Action partners to help distribute it. Lawmakers also approved $450 checks and the federal government kicked in another $13 million for heating aid.

Maine relies on fuel oil more than any other state in the nation. More than 70 percent of homes use it to provide heat.

This article appears through a media partnership with Maine Public.