The Good Neighbor Energy Fund was established over 30 years ago. It is a resource that Massachusetts families and individuals can turn to in order to get help with paying their energy bills (gas, oil, heating, and electric) if they are experiencing a temporary financial difficulty. The program is targeted at those who can’t afford their energy bills and who are not eligible for other state or federal government assistance programs.
Since the inception of the program, the Good Neighbor Energy Fund has been able to help tens of thousands of households and individuals throughout the state. Not only that, but tens of millions of dollars have been distributed to qualified families over the years. The money to fund the program is donated from utility companies and almost 2 million contributing, caring neighbors throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts also donated funds.
The Good Neighbor Energy Fund (GNEF) assists people who might not otherwise be able to qualify for other government assistance programs, mainly the working poor of Massachusetts. Without any form of assistance from the GNEF program, many of these households would not be able to pay their monthly heating and utility bills. The Salvation Army handles the mechanics of the program through a network of field offices across the state and their corporate office.
In order to qualify for the program, there are some income levels that households must meet as well as other conditions that are in place. One condition is income. Total household income for people for the prior twelve months or for the past month (times 12 months for a total annual figure) must be between 60% and 80% of the state’s median income level.
While the program will pay cash grants, the maximum amount you can receive from the Good Neighbor Energy Fund is $300 per household per heating season. The exact dollar amount can also change based on various conditions, one of which is the overall resources available. The cash grants are paid directly to your energy supplier and not sent to the person applying.
There are only certain times of the year to apply. You can receive emergency assistance for your heating bills starting December 1 of each year, and non-emergency heating bill assistance can be applied for starting annually on January 1. Financial help is given year-round to qualified families, until funding for the program runs out. So funds are paid out first come and served basis to qualified households, so apply for financial support early in the season and do not wait.
To learn more or apply, call the Salvation Army toll-free at 1-800-334-3047 (in area codes 617, 508, 781, 978) or 1-800-262-1320 (in area code 413) for more information. The staff can advice on the eligibility process. As noted above, a key partner is the Salvation Army, and this non-profit organization administers the Massachusetts Good Neighbor Energy Fund. Or feel free to call a center in your local neighborhood or stop by one for intake. Be prepared to show proof of income and the hardship you may be facing.
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