Winter Is Coming, and Fuel Costs Will Hit the Poor the Hardest

By S.E Smith – Talk Poverty ~

Winter is coming, and it’s going to be colder for some than others.

“Starting junior year,” recalls Alexis Stewart, a West Virginia-based writer and musician, “my mom said we couldn’t afford heat and I had to ‘suck it up.’ I don’t know if we didn’t qualify for [the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program] those years or if the funding ran out before they got to us. I bought a space heater with money from my part time job, but because of the poor insulation, I’d still wake up to a stiff frozen blanket.”

Stewart grew up in a low-income household and today still struggles with the cost of heat. While living in one antiquated shared home in Huntington, “the food bank used to see a lot of me between November and March” thanks to high heating bills that were challenging even when split among six people.

Stewart is not alone in experiencing the “heat or eat” bind. A 2015 Department of Energy study found 25 million American households skipping food and medicine to pay for energy, with 7 million reporting they did so every month.

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