Community Action Programs
Seasonal Fuel Assistance
The Seasonal Fuel Assistance Program (SFA) is administered by the Office of Home Heating Fuel Assistance (OHHFA) in Waterbury and helps low income families pay a portion of their home heating bills. Applications are available at Community Action or by calling 1-800-479-6151.
Assistance is for homeowners and renters who pay for their heat or when heat is included in the rent. A single benefit is sent directly to the fuel supplier, except for those that live in heated rentals; they receive the benefit directly. Applications are accepted year round. Applicants that pay for the heat and apply by August 31 will have their benefit sent to their fuel supplier by November 30. Applicants that apply between September 1 and November 30 will still receive a full benefit but not until January 15. After that the benefit will decrease and will arrive later. A household must apply for Seasonal Fuel Assistance in order to be considered for Crisis Fuel Assistance.
Crisis Fuel Assistance
Addison County (802) 388-2285 or 1-800-639-2318
Chittenden County (802) 863-6248 or 1-800-287-7971
Franklin/ Grand Isle Counties (802) 527-7392 or 1-800-300-7392
The Crisis Fuel Assistance Program (CFA) is administered by the 5 Vermont Community Action Agencies in Vermont. The program is open from the last Monday in November until to the second Friday in April for those that heat with bulk fuel and until the last working day in April for those that heat with metered service.
The CFA Program assists households that are almost out of bulk fuel (oil, kerosene, propane, firewood, etc.) and lack the resources to secure a delivery. CFA can also assist households that heat with metered utilities (electric, natural gas and propane) and have received a disconnection notice from their utility company and lack the resources to avoid a disconnection or have service reconnected. CFA may also be able to assist with a disconnection notice for electric service that runs a furnace. In some cases CFA may be able to help homeowners with furnace repairs or replacements.
There is a limit of 3 CFA grants per season. In order to qualify a household must have applied for Seasonal Fuel Assistance. The income level used to determine eligibility is higher than that of the Seasonal Fuel Assistance Program. This is not an “entitlement” program – in addition to being income eligible, a household must demonstrate that they had an extenuating or unpredictable circumstance and must be able to account for how their income was spent during the last 30 days. Those seeking assistance with a disconnection notice must bring the notice with them.
Applicants must apply in person at their local Community Action Agency office. Elderly and disabled people that are unable to apply in person may apply over the phone. Households should not wait to apply until they have run out of fuel. Fuel dealers often charge a special trip fee for emergency deliveries and these charges needlessly drain the funds. CFA cannot assist if the fuel has already been delivered or the furnace work has been completed.
Crisis Fuel Assistance After-Hours
Statewide assistance is available when the Community Action Agencies have closed for the day or on weekends and holidays beginning the last Monday in November until the second Friday in April. Not all after-hours requests are granted. After midnight, the after-hours staff is available only for clients that are elderly, disabled or have children under 6 years old living in the household. Households that are granted assistance after-hours are required to complete a CFA application at their local Community Action office or risk future assistance from the CFA Program.
The WARMTH Program
The WARMTH Program is also administered by the Community Action Agencies. Energy Suppliers include brochures with their bills asking their customers to donate money to the funds. WARMTH receives administrative support from Green Mountain Power, Vermont Gas Systems, Burlington Electric Department, the State and the City of Burlington.
Funds are available from October through May. These programs are also emergency based – the applicant must be almost out of fuel or in danger of having their service disconnected. The funds can be used up to 3 times during the heating season and up to $75.00 each time depending on the amount of money in the fund and the amount needed to avert the emergency.
Vermont Department of Public
Consumer Affairs & Information Division
The Department of Public Service (DPS) - Consumer Affairs Divisions protects Vermont consumers by resolving citizen complaints against regulated utilities, advocating for policies which protect consumer interests and educating consumers about utility issues so they can more effectively advocate for themselves. The DPS regulates the electric, natural gas, telephone and cable companies in Vermont. They interpret and enforce the regulations on disconnections and deposits. There are special safeguards for disconnections that are scheduled for the winter months, November through March.
A booklet called Utilities and You summarizes the regulations on disconnections anddeposits and is available from The DPS or Community Action. Propane companies are regulated by the Consumer Assistance Program at 1-800-649-2424. Oil and kerosene companies are unregulated.
Consider this ……
- Electric companies disconnect about 7,000 households each year – many are avoidable
- Utility companies and fuel companies will often make reasonable repayment arrangements with the customer to prevent a disconnection
- Prior to moving to a new dwelling find out what the primary fuel source is and who the supplier and electric company is, find out if they require good credit or a deposit to become a customer and ask what the average bill for that unit is
- Utility companies can and do disconnect during the winter
- Having children does not prevent a disconnection
- Seasonal Fuel Assistance benefits that are not used by April 30 are returned to the fuel office in Waterbury
- Renters that have their heat included in the rent and those who are roomers may be eligible for a smaller Seasonal Fuel Assistance benefit
- There is no assistance for cooking fuel, fuel that only heats the hot water or electricity that is not connected to the heating system
- There is no assistance if the name on the account is not a member of the household or if the account is in a child’s name
- A note from a physician may prevent a disconnection for 30 days and can be renewed for another 30 days – notes can only be used 3 times during a year and only 2 times in a row
- Many churches and community groups have funds to assist with fuel and utilities but usually require that funds at Community Action be utilized first
- Assistance for telephone bills is available from the Lifeline Program at the Department for Children and Families and for the cost of installing a phone from the Link-up Program at Community Action
Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity