It is freezing outside which reminds me to make sure our Melrosian veterans are aware of local and state benefits that assist low-income veterans and their dependents with oil and gas heating costs.
The Tri-Community Action Program (known locally as Tri-Cap) provides fuel assistance for all low-income Melrose residents including veterans. The income thresholds match federal poverty standards. For a family of one (a veteran or widow living alone), the threshold is approximately $31,000 a year. For a family of two (a veteran and spouse), the threshold is approximately $41,000 a year. While currently circulated rumors indicate that Tri-Cap does not have any money for 2011-12 winter season; this is not necessarily the case and I urge you to apply. Typically, a denial from Tri-Cap means another door opens at a different agency, but often the first step is trying to get assistance from Tri-Cap. More importantly, every little bit helps when it comes to heat and shelter.
Additionally, my office has a program called Chapter 115, a needs-based income and medical benefit for eligible veterans and dependents. If you qualify for the Tri-Cap program, you typically qualify for Chapter 115, meaning you should contact my office as soon as possible to discuss filling out an application. Chapter 115 recipients qualify for an additional $500 worth of fuel assistance once Tri-Cap benefits are exhausted. While this is not enough, the combined benefit often means two full tanks of oil.
Lastly, local options, including the Mayor's Emergency Fund and advocacy on your behalf with local utility and oil companies are available to Melrose veterans. The most common reason for low-income veterans not receiving fuel assistance is not applying. There are many admirable agencies in the area that are willing to provide assistance in a dignified manner commiserate with your military service.
The following are local numbers to call if you need a little help this winter:
Tri-Cap Fuel Assistance: 781-322-6284
Melrose Veteran Services: 781-979-4186
I urge you to call these numbers for assistance if you or someone you know qualifies for fuel assistance. Given the temperatures or late and the knowledge that winter is just beginning means we need to make a commitment that no veteran goes without heat in 2012.