DERBY, Conn. — With the rising costs of home heating oil, families across Connecticut sat down with elected officials Tuesday morning to explain why even with federal energy assistance programs in place, they're still struggling.
"Why? How did we get here and how do we fix it so we can just afford to live?" asked a participant in energy assistance programs.
That's the question on everyone's mind as home energy bills keep going up.
"Everyone’s really afraid of being able to heat their homes," said Stephanie Ocasio-Gonzalez, another energy assistance program participant.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, energy bills are 2/3 higher than last year. Experts say the cost of oil, gas and electricity could keep skyrocketing.
"Everything is just so expensive and we really need to remember we’re humans and our basic needs need to be met," said Ocasio-Gonzalez.
Residents across the state are speaking out to Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro and elected officials, calling for more help to pay their heating bills.
There are federal, state and local programs in place to help qualifying families.
But some participants said that help isn't enough with the cost of everything else going up too.
"People are struggling. The financial challenges in their lives can be overwhelming and on the federal, state and local level we have an obligation to help people meet those challenges," said Congresswoman DeLauro.
Households speaking at the table said they're surviving but not living and they've been going years without a rainy day fund, but now every day feels like it is pouring.
"Now we’re just waiting to get down to that quarter tank mark and see where we’re at," said one resident about their oil tank.
Some families who qualify for help said they still can't afford their bills and some families who make too much to qualify still can't fill their oil tanks.
Congresswoman DeLauro said officials need to go back to the drawing board to help families doing everything they can to stay afloat.
"We need to take a look at the benefit levels, those numbers haven’t changed. Why can’t we increase that level? Why are providers charging so much or why do the dollar amounts fluctuate? One day it’s one number another day it’s higher," said the Congresswoman.
If your family is struggling with your bills you can click here for resources and programs that can help.
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