SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Springfield city leaders joined the Valley Opportunity Council on Monday in celebrating the grand opening of its new Springfield location.

“It’s needed now more than ever now, utility costs are skyrocketing,” said Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno. With this addition space, located at 555 State Street, Valley Opportunity Council makes it easier for Springfield families to apply for energy assistance.

The application process can be done online or in-person. Walk-in visits are welcome, but appointments are preferred. Valley Opportunity Council Executive Director Stephen Huntley told 22News eligibility for fuel-assistance is income-based.

“A family of four, somewhere around $60,000 they make that or less, they’d be eligible. All depending on other circumstances, that’s sort of a rough guess,” said Huntley.

The new location comes at an appropriate time, as home energy costs inch toward levels not seen in years. This past week, a gallon of home heating oil on average sold for about $5.71 a gallon. This time last year, the average was $3.30 a gallon.

One applicant expressed the relief he felt dropping off his application. “I was getting nervous. Especially with the prognosis of a possible prices going up,” shared Adolphus Moses of Springfield.

Valley Opportunity Council stresses the importance of filling out an application as soon as possible if you’re in need of assistance.

Learn about Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program

The cost of heating is expected to be 28.6% higher for homes using natural gas, 18.6% higher for those that use oil, and 54.6% for electric heating. The Valley Opportunity Council is a non-profit that provides fuel assistance and they are sharing simple things homeowners can do to cut down those high heating bills.

Mayor Sarno stated, “Now more than ever is fuel assistance needed.  I want to thank Valley Opportunity Council Executive Director Steve Huntley and his team for their efforts in helping those in need, especially as the winter season and colder weather is quickly coming upon us.  Special shoutout to Paul Robbins for his efforts in helping and advocating for those in need in our community too.”  

VOC is an agency of record for providing fuel assistance for income-eligible residents in Springfield. They have been providing fuel assistance to families all throughout Hampden County, except Springfield for many years until now.