(WWLP) – There is help available to help with home heating bills this winter, with the help of the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development. They will be starting an annual Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program begins Tuesday.

The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program is here to help, meant for households bringing home no more than 60-percent of the estimated state median income, which is roughly $45,000. Direct payments to your provider are available for payments between November and April but it takes a little time.

This program is federally funded with money first going to the state then distributed through local service agencies. For Hampden County, that’s the Valley Opportunity Council with offices in Holyoke, Chicopee and for the first time this year in Springfield. You can apply online or in-person or by filling out a form and dropping it off at any of their offices.

Hampshire and Franklin County residents should contact Community Action Pioneer Valley in Greenfield.

“As the temperature drops, families across the Commonwealth are struggling to keep up with the rising cost of energy, caused by the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and Putin’s war of aggression in Ukraine,” said Senator Markey. “Now more than ever, we need to ensure that we’re fueling the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program with the funding and support it needs so that it can in turn help heat households across the Commonwealth this winter. I look forward to continuing to work alongside MASSCAP, Self Help Inc., and the Massachusetts Energy Directors Association to keep LIHEAP on full blast in the months ahead.”

The program will be providing assistance for income-eligible households until April 28th of next year.

“Fuel assistance is a lifesaving program, plain and simple, and with the sustained high cost of energy and utility costs, and the unprecedented cost of living increases, our clients are facing a financial storm not seen in a generation,” reported Jon Carlson, Executive Director, Self Help Inc. “We are grateful to Congressman Lynch for his tremendous support and advocacy in Congress, as well as our local legislations, for their continued effort, especially this past year, with the releasing funds that have been critical in helping those that are of low-income stay warm.”

Those interested are to apply in person at a fuel assistance energy near you. Eligibility requirements can be found here.